La Center basketball team unifies community

first_imgLA CENTER — Five wins. Five losses. A .500 winning percentage.On paper, La Center Middle School’s eighth grade boys basketball team defined average this season. In reality, they’re anything but.The boys’ courage in the aftermath of teammate and friend Cody Sherrell’s death from sudden cardiac arrest provided strength for their classmates and teachers, solace for the community and a source of comfort for Cody’s family, school officials said. Wins and losses don’t tell the whole story.“There was amazing pressure on these kids to be that inspiration,” Principal David Cooke said, while seated inside a conference room in the middle school’s main office. “They were not only playing for Cody but playing for a grieving school and a grieving community. (The basketball team) was onething people could rally behind.”The team rallied behind Cody’s memory, three of its players said Wednesday.“Cody was our first priority,” Dalton Morgan, 14, recalled.Cody died Jan. 9, six days after collapsing at the end of the team’s first practice of the season. He was 14.Ten days after Cody’s death, hundreds of students, school faculty, parents and community residents packed La Center Middle’s gym for the team’s season opener against Hockinson Middle School. Many in the crowd wore black hooded sweatshirts or T-shirts bearing Cody’s name and number (24). The proceeds went to Cody’s family to offset hospital bills.During a somber pre-game ceremony, Brandon Sherrell told the crowd his son had achieved his dream the day he collapsed. On a wall behind him, a sign declared the hardwood he stood on as “Cody’s Court.” The Sherrell family did not respond to a request for comment for this story.La Center defeated Hockinson, 70-54, on opening night, equaling its 2011 win total.The team’s goal remained the same in each of its games — win for Cody. Pre-game cheers before home games reminded them to “protect Cody’s house.”last_img

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