Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
LATHAM — When each player on a basketball team understands, accepts and performs their role, usually, the on-court product resembles a hoops symphony … harmony in living color.
Western’s Alex Humphrey acknowledges the previous sentence as a fact. The Indians’ senior guard is a prime example of hard work turning into an expanded role and, later, much success.
Before any game he plays, Humphrey still sticks to the same blueprint he’s always used. It’s simple, yet effective. And, if it’s been proven to work time and time again, why go away from it?
“Most of it is just coach telling me what I need to do and I just go out, play my role and execute,” Humphrey said. “As a team, we stick to what coach says. Everything he tells us is right on target. We just follow the game plan. He puts in the hours off the court that nobody sees.”
Humphrey could say the same about himself. After all, you don’t play at the level he plays without putting in the work that coincides. His focus on getting better, on and off the court, is almost unrivaled.
“Usually, before the game, I just pop in some headphones and get in my zone,” he said. “I don’t let outside things bother me. When I step on the court, that’s what I’m focused on.”
Attitudes like Humphrey’s, along with the mindset of each of his teammates, are what’s guided the Indians to an 12-2 record with signature wins over Portsmouth, Green and New Boston.
And, while Humphrey is certainly capable of scoring at will, he doesn’t care who scores however many points on a given night … he only cares about winning.
Take this past Thursday for example. Humphrey wasn’t even in the Indians’ starting lineup. But he promptly came off the bench and dropped a game-high 21 points while playing tight defense against a talented New Boston program.
“Athletically, there are few kids around that can handle Alex,” Western coach P.J. Fitch said of Humphrey. “He’s got a real good pull-up jumper, he’s a good slasher and if you leave him open for 3, he can hit that. So that’s a triple threat. He’s a handful when he’s engaged and one of the best defensive players in the area when he wants to lock it down.”
When you pair that with the talents of fellow senior Lane Brewster, the Indians have quite the 1-2 punch.
“Lane is a great guy. He works hard off the court and he’s a good person. He’s always in the gym working and I think him having that work ethic motivates me to play harder as well,” Humphrey said. “I know it’s our last season so we want to get everything we can out of it.”
The fact that it’s indeed his last season has certainly crossed his mind.
Every game represents one step closer to the end of a successful four-year run at Western.
“It’s hard not to think about the end of the this season,” Humphrey said. “I know that I’m probably going to bust out crying whenever it does come to an end. But I’m just going to do what I can now until I get to that point.”
“Doing what he can” translates into working hard for his teammates to help win games.
Last season, Western’s tournament run ended with a 50-45 loss to Southeastern in a Division III sectional semifinal. That end result won’t cut it this year … Humphrey wants to leave a mark.
“I think we can go all the way. We have a pretty special team,” Humphrey said. “I know that getting to [the] state [tournament] isn’t easy. But I have confidence in my team. I want [future players] to look at us and think they can do what we did, too … if they put in the work. You don’t get to where we are right now without working for it.”