Following arrests, what's next for Germantown boys basketball?
Team adjusts to altered lineup
Will what happened on Jan. 23 with four Germantown basketball players getting busted for drug possession be the thing that permanently defines this hard-charging, fast-rising program forever?
Will 14 years of working toward the top of the mountain by coach Steve Showalter be erased in a whiff of marijuana smoke?
Showalter, who is under a district-centered gag order not to talk about the particulars of the incident or the ramifications to the players, certainly hopes not as the footing gets a little treacherous and the air gets a little thin at the heights he and his program have reached.
"The goals remain there," he said. "We have a good group of kids and they don't deserve a black cloud over everything (that has been accomplished). It's a good group and we'll march forward together."
District investigating incident
What happens now to Lamonté and Brian Bearden, Dearionte Hudson and Lamont Christian is both a criminal manner as Hudson was charged by Germantown police with misdemeanor marijuana possession and the others were given citations for the same violation, as well as a topic for the school athletic code.
"As a result of receiving this information, we began to do our own investigation as related to a potential violation of the Germantown High School Activities Code," Principal Joel Farren said as part of a prepared statement. "We are currently in the midst of the investigation and cannot comment further."
Word on the punishments should come down soon.
Farren forwarded the online version of the school's co-curricular handbook. On page nine, under the heading "AODA," it specifically bans any tobacco product, illegal drugs, mood altering substance (as defined by school policy) or performance enhancing substance (as defined by the WIAA).
In addition, and more germane to this issue is the following: "Attendance at a function where alcohol and/or drugs are present and being illegally consumed will be considered a violation of the code of conduct. This standard shall be in effect and enforced twelve months of the year."
Penalties for first-time violations include, verbatim: "...loss of participation for one-quarter of regular season games or performances (though they may attend all practices) and be required to be evaluated by the guidance department or receive an AODA assessment from outside the district. Failure to take part and follow the assessment recommendations will result in the student missing an entire season or semester."
Punishments go up for a second offense, including a loss of half of the season. Assessments and monitoring are more severe, too.
There is a three-level appeals process that the student may choose to engage that includes in order, the School's Board of review, the district superintendent and then to the School Board. Both the appeals to the superintendent and the board must done in writing within five days of the date of determination of the previous appeal.
Adjusting to loss
What this all means to the basketball team is that there is a strong likelihood that the four will miss approximately five or six games, taking them very close to the end of the regular season. Showalter knows he and the team will have to move fast.
"We have to get people to do things they're not used to doing," he said.
That's because, what had arguably been the deepest guard line in the state, has now, for the foreseeable future, been made one of the thinnest. Lamonté Bearden is an all-state level starting point guard, his half-brother Brian starts alongside him and Hudson is the first guard off the bench.
Showalter said this has been a most miserable time. As most people know, he is also a Germantown police officer so it was one of his friends ("They're all my friends," he said of the police force) who pulled the car over on Jan. 23. One can only imagine the tone and tenor of the conversation that informed Showalter of the situation.
Afterward, he got the team together and talked to them of what happened (the other players are under the same gag order about the situation). He then let three of the co-captains, his son, Jake Showalter, Jon Averkamp and Evan Wesenberg do some heavy lifting.
"Those three have definitely shined ever since this happened," he said. "Their leadership has pulled the team together both in front of me and away from me."
Coach Showalter said the subsequent 11-man practice on the evening of Jan. 23 went "great" as they Jerry-rigged a plan with a new starting lineup and new rotations. Dangerous Whitefish Bay awaited the next day.
It was a remarkable scene Friday, with the four involved in the incident in street clothes looking well-dressed if not a a bit sheepish and no doubt embarrassed. That Germantown won without them was simply astounding.
"This was a great victory," coach Showalter said.
Players futures are murky
But the big belly-drop continues.
Because on top of everything else, the futures of the four players (as well as those of the two unnamed juveniles also in the car) are also at stake. Lamonté Bearden already has a scholarship to NCAA Division I Buffalo, but one wonders what will happen to that now. His half-brother and Hudson were still working on college plans. That process has just become infinitely more difficult for them because of poor decision-making.
The games themselves have taken on a secondary tone as Showalter mulls the impact of this sad event on the program that he and others have worked so hard to build in the past 14 years. Two state titles, numerous conference crowns, several NCAA Division I scholarships and many other players who have found basketball homes as well as a way toward a good education, cannot be erased so easily.
But a bit of the luster is off all that, and that is whether or not the players, apologies to the team in tow, do return. It's just going to be awkward and whatever is accomplished going forward will have a bit of an asterisk attached to it.
This team can still write its own story, Showalter said, but now they are a little like Icarus, who flew too close to the sun.
They've fallen to earth and now they're trying to dust themselves off looking for a way back into the sky.
"We're working on all of it," coach Showalter said. "Trying to survive day by day."
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