Spencer Lloyd and Noah Martin have taken very different paths in their athletic careers, yet the two friends since kindergarten find themselves in the same place: the only seniors on the young Squalicum boys basketball team.
Lloyd, Martin and the Storm had their hands full Monday night when the visiting Anacortes Seahawks knocked down 13 3-pointers to hand Squalicum a 66-53 loss. Devante Powell led the Storm (3-9 overall, 2-4 in Northwest Conference play) with 12 points, and Lloyd and Dedrick Mitchell added 9 points each.
In a way, the game was a microcosm of Squalicum’s season. The taller and more talented Seahawks jumped out to a big lead, but the gritty Storm fought back in the fourth-quarter to cut the lead to single digits only to succumb to free throws at the end.
“The effort was there,” said Squalicum coach Dave Dickson. “They are good guys who work hard. You can’t ask for more from them, except maybe a couple more wins. I really like coaching these guys.”
If leadership determines a team’s culture, then Lloyd and Martin have shown what it takes to be leaders, although in very different ways.
Lloyd is a three-sport standout, whose toughness made him one of the top football players in the county. At 5-foot-11, he uses his strength to battle under the boards with the big boys. And like any good quarterback, his leadership is vocal.
Martin only plays hoops, and after not playing much his sophomore year, he was ready to quit. But despite being only 5-foot-9, his quickness and aggressive defense earned him a spot with Lloyd in the starting lineup. For Martin, his quiet leadership is by example.
“He is an example of perseverance,” said Dickson of Martin, who barely saw playing time on the varsity as a junior. “He’s never the star. But he’s made himself into a valuable member of the team.
“Both these seniors know the value of our culture. They point the way for the other guys, and help them understand that this is bigger than just basketball.”
While Lloyd and Martin may never have the opportunity to make the playoffs, they understand that a winning culture means sacrificing for the team. That means seniors accepting their roles while more talented youngsters like juniors Devante Powell and Mitchell, and improving 6-foot-6 sophomore Leland Zender get the spotlight.
Having seen success in leading the Storm to the playoffs in football, Lloyd knows the importance of winning. But he echoed his coach’s priorities.
“It’s not all about winning,” said Lloyd. “We’re a tight-knit group. I love being with these guys. We’re getting better. We (the seniors) just want to set the culture for next year.”
Martin agreed. “If we don’t win a game, we’re not going to cry. We like each other. I’m just happy to be playing and having fun.”
But having fun playing on varsity didn’t come easy for Martin. “I had to work hard,” he said of making the varsity his senior year. “I wasn’t sure I’d make it. It just goes to show anybody can.”
Well, anybody can … if they are willing — like Squalicum seniors Spencer Lloyd and Noah Martin — to work hard for the team’s success, not their own.