Those who have followed Mark Weidenaar’s athletic career at Lakeside High School know about the senior’s recent battle with a serious injury.
But what some don’t realize is that he didn’t just miss both his football and basketball seasons as a junior after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament; he missed his sophomore hoops season as well, with a crack in his spine.
Despite it all, Weidenaar showed Friday evening that it doesn’t take him long to get the kinks out.
On a night when top scorer Chris Hall started slowly, Weidenaar stepped up in a big way.
He lifted the Panthers to a 61-49, nonregion victory over the visiting Harlem Bulldogs.
“I feel pretty good out here. I feel like I’ve recovered from everything in the past,” said Weidenaar, who missed just two shots while scoring a team-high 17 points. “It was hard to get going at the beginning of the season, but I feel good now.”
Hall came in averaging about 24 points per game for Lakeside (3-1), but struggled a bit in the first half.
Harlem (2-3) attempted to take him out of his game by having Devin Frails shadow him up and down the court.
It seemed to be working, taking him out of his normal rhythm.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hall was fouled while being double-teamed by Frails and Alonzo Hill. He received a technical foul for a retaliatory shot.
After that, however, the senior seemed energized. He didn’t miss a shot down the stretch and finished with 16 points.
When Panthers head coach John Kucela addressed his team at halftime, Weidenaar took the message to heart.
“At halftime, coach Kucela told us, ‘We need some guys to step up and take over the role a little bit. He can’t do it all by himself,’” the senior said.
“That’s what we were trying to do.”
Harlem hung fairly close throughout. The Bulldogs trailed 23-18 at the half and 38-29 after three quarters.
Freshman point guard Reggie Reid had a game-high 20 points for the Bulldogs, a little below his season average of 26.
Reid helped Harlem stay within reach down the stretch, showing off his athleticism by getting into the lane and getting to the free-throw line.
In the girls game, Lakeside’s guard combination of senior Cassie Bryant and junior Bria Baker came up big in a 52-10 win over Harlem.
“They play off each other real well,” head coach Jody Hilley said.
“We’re better when they’re both in the ball game.”
Bryant and Baker both had nine points and contributed with numerous steals on defense.
Harlem (0-5) had trouble with the full-court press from Lakeside (2-2) throughout.
The Bulldogs went down 22-6 at halftime, as their defense at least kept the deficit manageable.
Olivia Fitzgerald scored all of the first-half points for Harlem, which went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line and made just one field goal.
Lakeside’s Ashley Harrison had a game-high 10 points, many of which came down the stretch.