Cade Lamb returns from injury for final season with father
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
After missing almost all of last season with an injury, Almond-Bancroft High School senior Cade Lamb is back to help his teammates make another run this season.
The son of 20th-year Almond-Bancroft boys basketball head coach Curt Lamb, Cade was set to take on an expanded role for the Eagles last year, but tore his ACL after the second game of his junior season.
The 6-5 guard/forward is off to a strong start so far as a senior, as he poured in 27 points and buried eight three-pointers to help lead Division 5 sixth-ranked Almond to an 83-43 victory over defending Central Wisconsin Conference (CWC) South Champion Pacelli on the road Friday, Dec. 21, that improved the Eagles to 7-0 this season.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with as a coach,” said coach Lamb. “It’s your son, tearing his ACL, but God works in mysterious ways.
“With his rehab, I think it’s motivated him,” he said. “He understood he had to work hard at it, and he did everything they asked him to so he could play.”
“Considering I was out my junior year, this is a big year,” said Cade. “And I’m just happy I can be back for my senior year, and give it my all at the end.”
Cade grew up around the boys basketball program at Almond-Bancroft, where his father also played in high school and has guided the Eagles to 325 wins during his coaching career.
Through the years, Cade has played with the team’s current group of seniors that includes Noah Kollock, Jon Perrin and Zach Bunders, whose father Spence is an assistant coach for the team.
“I’ve always been around the basketball team, growing up watching them, seeing what they can do,” said Cade. “Always just wanting to prove myself and what our team can actually do at Almond-Bancroft, and make a name for our senior class.”
“It’s my 20th year, so he’s been part of it (his whole life), and he’s always there,” said coach Lamb. “Between them and the Bunders, they’ve got an advantage because they’re always in the gym working at it, but you’ve got to look at all of the kids though.
“This group, basketball is their passion, and they all work at it,” he said. “And I’m just fortunate to coach them, and I just love being around these kids.”
Cade saw action in two games on varsity as a freshman in 2015-16, when Almond made its deepest run in program history with a trip to the Sectional Finals, before he took over as the team’s sixth man as a sophomore in 2016-17.
He scored 29 points and set a school-record when he made nine three-pointers in a 92-50 win over Northland Lutheran in a Regional Quarterfinal Feb. 28, 2017, and finished third on the team in scoring with 8.8 points per game, as the Eagles advanced to the Sectional Semifinals and finished 23-3.
“His sophomore year, he came off the bench, but technically he should’ve been a starter, it just worked better with that group,” said coach Lamb. “So he was unselfish with that, and I think that was a good thing that he dealt with.”
Last season as a junior, Cade moved into the starting lineup for Almond and averaged 14 points and eight rebounds through the first two games, before he suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the rest of the season.
“It all started in open gym when I landed and tore my ACL,” said Cade. “I knew right away I had to work hard for myself and my team to get back and help them out.
“And it kept me motivated, kept pushing me, and my physical therapist actually helped me out a lot through it, and he got me better than what I was before,” he said. “He showed me how much working hard can actually get you in life, and that you’ve got to keep working hard.”
“It’s disappointing, and I feel bad for him,” said coach Lamb last year after the injury. “You work so hard from third grade on to get ready for these years here, and it’s kind of taken away from him.
“The ball’s in his court now,” he said. “He’s got to work hard at it and come back stronger than ever, hopefully.”
Without a starter taller than 6-1, the Eagles went on to finish 18-7 last year, but brought back four starters for this season, along with the expected return of Cade.
In his first game back as a senior, Cade finished with nine points and nine rebounds in a 62-56 win at Manawa Nov. 26, and has scored in double figures in each of the Eagles’ six games since.
Included in that was the win over Pacelli last Friday, when he hit 8-of-15 three-pointers to finish one short of his school record, and scored 27 points in the Eagles’ 83-43 victory.
For the season he is averaging 17.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 44.4 percent on three-pointers, as he has teamed up with his senior classmates Kollock (20.0 points per game), Bunders (10.3 points) and Perrin (6.6 points) to help lead Almond to a 7-0 start.
“Last year, it just sucked, because we knew what he was capable of, and we knew how many ways he could help us,” said Kollock. “And this year, we’re just happy he’s here, and he makes our offense flow well.
“He can hit shots, and it’s really fun just having him out there and having all of our guys working in one big cycle,” he said.
“He’s always had the ability to shoot the three,” said coach Lamb. “And what I like this year, he’s putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket and rebounding and defending the post solid.
“He was a little rusty the first couple of games, but he’s progressing nicely,” he said.
As the Eagles look to contend this season for their first ever trip to the State Tournament, Cade said that it’s been really good to get back on the court, playing for his dad and with his teammates that he grew up with.
“I haven’t coached any other groups (in the youth program), I let other parents or kids take them, but I’ve been fortunate, I’ve got to coach that group since third grade, and it’s been fun,” said coach Lamb. “I’m going to miss them dearly when this year is done, so I’m trying to enjoy each game, and each practice as much as I can with them.”
“I can remember back when we were little kids, we would always be at each other’s house playing basketball, working on our skills, and just getting better,” said Cade. “And we’re going to just keep doing that.
“We want to get that Conference Championship,” he said. “And then we want to get my dad down to Madison, where he belongs.”