FAIRFIELD — As the regular season approached its end, Kobe Nadeau and Nick Robertson saw the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference stats. Both were near the top of the league in 3-pointers made. Two of the Lawrence High School boys basketball team’s captains, Nadeau and Robertson talked on the way to a game at Nokomis. A late-season friendly competition was born.

“I won, so…” Nadeau said before Tuesday’s practice. He gave a no-big-deal shrug, and both he and Robertson laughed.

It was easy to make light of the friendly competition, because Nadeau and Robertson know the truth. Both have played well this season, and that’s a big reason the Bulldogs are in the Class A North semifinals for the first time in six years.

Lawrence guard Kobe Nadeau, right, looks to take the ball away from Erskine’s Seth Savage during Class A North quarterfinal game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Kennebec photo by Joe Phelan

No. 4 Lawrence (11-8) will face No. 1 Cony (15-4) at 8:30 Wednesday night at the Augusta Civic Center.

“They both can attack the rim. They both can finish in the paint. Both have the ability to shoot the ball well from outside,” Lawrence coach Jason Pellerin said of the senior duo. “Throughout the course of the year, it seems like they’ve been kind of swapping off. One has a big game one night and the other has a big game the next night. They can both go off, and it’s been a really good combination for us to have two guys who are able to do that.”

In Saturday’s 53-38 win over Erskine Academy in the regional quarterfinals,Robertson and Nadeau accounted for 68 percent of the Bulldogs’ offense. Robertson scored a game-high 23 points, while Nadeau added 13.

“We’ve been playing together since pretty much grade school, so we know how each other works,” Robertson said.

Nadeau led Lawrence in scoring in the regular season, with 15.8 points per game, fifth-best in the league. Robertson also cracked the KVAC’s top 20 scorers at 10.8 points per game. Both are in the league’s top five in 3-pointers made, Nadeau is second with 44, while Robertson is fifth with 35. Robertson made four 3-pointers in Saturday’s win over Erskine to Nadeau’s one, closing the gap in their friendly rivalry. Nadeau was happy to help his teammate in that regard. In the second half, he worked to create open looks for Robertson.

“I knew in the second half, Nick was hot. So we tried to find ways on offense to try and get him the ball. Get screens set for him and looks. We just tried to feed off him,” Nadeau said. “I’m able to create space off the dribble, and he’s able to knock down shots off the passes. We work pretty well together.”

That’s an example of Nadeau using the strengths of his leadership style, Pellerin said.

“Kobe’s like a coach on the court. If I take a timeout, I’ll usually say, ‘Hey, what do you guys want to run?’ I’ll give them a couple options. He’s usually vocal enough to say ‘How about this?’ I think the guys have confidence in him doing that,” Pellerin said. “They’ll be times we’re going down the court, he’ll look over, ‘Coach, can we run this set?’ Sure go ahead. I don’t mind giving the guys the pride of authorship with that. I say, this is your team.”

Robertson is the off-the-court leader, a jokester adept at keeping his teammates loose. Lawrence had a tough one-point loss to Cony in mid-January, an 80-79 game decided when the Rams made a shot at the buzzer. With a game against defending-conference champion Hampden just two days later, the Bulldogs had no time to dwell on the loss. Robertson wouldn’t allow it, anyway. Lawrence earned a big, 40-38 win over the Broncos, and that win kicked off a 6-2 run Lawrence carries into Wednesday’s semifinal.

It’s common for Pellerin to walk into the locker room after a game to find the team chuckling at something Robertson just said.

“He keeps things loose, and the guys look up to that. I don’t think we would’ve beaten Hampden without that,” Pellerin said. “Guys could have been devastated. We had a tough schedule coming up. We came in prepared for Hampden. Maybe Nick’s leadership style helped out there.”

“I just like to have fun. I keep an open mind and try to say funny things that keep everyone going,” Robertson added.

Nadeau and Robertson have been members of a Lawrence team that has learned on the job. The Bulldogs went 10-26 over the last two seasons, missing the playoffs in each. This season began with four straight losses, before Lawrence showed the maturity and poise developed over time. The Bulldogs followed the losing streak with a five-game win streak, and finished the regular season 10-8 and ranked fourth in Class A North.

“I don’t think our skill set has improved dramatically throughout high school, but our mental toughness, our attitude, throughout high school we matured so we’re able to lead on the court and try and stay in the moment,” Nadeau said.

Added Robertson: “We took two years of losing and battling, so we knew this year what it would take. We found our stride later after starting 0-4.”

With just one senior on the roster last season, Nadeau and Robertson were thrust into leadership roles as juniors. They’re seeing that experience pay off now, Pellerin said.

“You can see guys flip the switch between junior and senior year. They’re more mature. A little bit more mentally tough,” Pellerin said. “They already know what to expect, and that’s allowed their games to grow and blossom this year.”

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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