INDEPENDENCE — Basketball season is over for Brendan Lesmeister, and the senior from Central High School didn’t expect his last three years on the Panthers basketball team to go by so fast.
“It’s definitely tough, it comes a lot faster than you think,” he said. “It feels like just yesterday — sophomore year when I started — it feels like it was just a couple days ago. Everything catches up and it really does fly by. (This) season went by super fast. These are the best times of high school, when you get to play with your friends. It was just awesome.”
His favorite memory of the past three years was when the Panthers played at Dallas or hosted them.
“Because our whole student body goes to that, and it’s just always packed and really exciting. I think my sophomore year was probably my favorite game. We were down by like one point with 20 seconds left, and I stole it for a layup to go into overtime. I think that was my favorite memory, but every time there’s a big crowd and everyone comes out to watch is just always special.”
The point guard helped lead his team to an 11-14 overall record, a 9-7 league record and a third-place spot in the Mid-Willamette Conference this season.
“This year was definitely a different year than a lot of other years,” Lesmeister said, “because we had a lot of younger kids playing bigger roles, a freshman starting point guard, and just a lot of younger guys getting involved. We started off preseason with a couple losses that we maybe we should have had, and then carrying that into league, we also dropped a couple league games by two or three points that would have definitely helped us down the road, which was kind of tough, but overall I feel like, as a team with where we were and not that much chemistry, we did pretty well making it to the top 16 teams in the state.”
The Panthers’ season ended in the first playoff game of the postseason against Willamette High School, when they fell 56-34.
“We played them in preseason, in a tournament, and we lost by 10 points, so we kind of knew them as a team a little bit,” Lesmeister said. “Playing that (playoff) game, I think it was a good option, because we knew how they played and we had seen them before. I was pretty confident going in, and I think my team was confident too, but before half time I got into foul trouble and sat quite a bit and ... there were a couple things that happened, and then they went on a couple of big runs which is pretty hard to stop in a game like that. There were a lot of people there, and once they get going, it was hard to stop their pushes. But, you know, it was like, play your hardest because that could be your last game of high school.”
It was for Lesmeister. He didn’t make it to Gil Coliseum at Oregon State University for the high school basketball state championships like he hoped he and his team would.
“It was a tough loss,” he said. “I don’t think we played the way we could have, and I obviously wish it would have been a different outcome or played better. I don’t think we played the best. But having that opportunity to play in the top 16 was pretty special. Now, onto baseball, and if I end up playing next year in college, I’ll have another opportunity to start a new beginning.”