Blake Brandenburg isn't on the best basketball team in the county. In fact, Lakeside's boys team has one of the worst records of all six Columbia County boys teams.
That doesn't matter to Blake.
"I like the way one of my teammates put it: 'I'd rather lose in a Lakeside jersey than win in anything else,'" he said. "That's how I feel."
With Blake on a team with a 4-15 record entering this week, his attitude might come as a surprise - but only to people who don't know him.
"He's got an excellent attitude - just a hard-working kid," Lakeside Athletic Director Randy Hill said. "He's a great role model for our kids, a great student and a good Christian."
Blake leads Lakeside on the basketball court. He put up 23 points in a loss to Butler and 19 points in a loss to Washington-Wilkes this year. His offensive numbers were finally rewarded with a win Saturday when the Panthers beat Butler by 14 points. Blake's contribution? Fourteen points.
"He'll give us 10 to 15 points a game that we can count on," Lakeside boys basketball coach Ryan Morningstar said. "It's more than that. If we're down by 20, he's the only kid diving on the ball. He doesn't know how to not play full speed."
As the only returning starter on a young Lakeside squad, Blake contributes to the team beyond his offensive numbers. The Lakeside program has seen three head coaches in the past four years. That made Blake's leadership skills even more helpful.
"I know our record hasn't been the best, but I don't think we'd have won even one game without him," Morningstar said. "He's helped some of the others overachieve. He's made me a better coach."
The impact Blake has made at Lakeside doesn't stop on the basketball court. Underclassmen in every sport say they want to be like him. His teammates voluntarily stay after practice on Wednesdays to hear him lead a weekly Bible study.
Then there's the piano.
"My real passion is music," he said. "I've been practicing the piano since second grade."
Those years of practice could lead to a college scholarship. Blake will travel to Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend for a personal tryout that could land him in one of the top music schools in the Southeast.
Blake told his coach that, despite his Saturday-morning tryout in Nashville, he'll still make it back for a nonregion basketball game against Burke County on Saturday night.
"That's the kind of person he is," Morningstar said. "Honestly, it's frustrating knowing that I get a kid like Blake, the best of the best, in my first year of coaching.
"People keep telling me I won't get a kid like that every year."
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