HARTLAND — It helps to have a mother who played major college basketball when feelings get hurt playing for an old-school coach.
Does Hartland coach Don Palmer yell occasionally — or more than occasionally — at senior Lauren Sollom during practice or timeouts?
“I never yell at her,” Palmer said with a grin.
Sure, he does. But Sollom can take her place at the back of a long line of players who have experienced Palmer’s tough love during a coaching career that began in 1974.
Sollom’s mother, Dianne, played against Palmer’s Milford teams at Walled Lake Western before going on to Michigan State University. She can offer a perspective few parents can when her daughter needs to be talked off the ledge.
“My mom has always told me if coach Palmer or any coach just stops yelling at me, it’s not a good thing,” Sollom said. “Personally, not in the moment sometimes, I don’t take how he says it, but I take in what he says. Obviously, nobody wants to get yelled at. A couple minutes after that, I’m like, “I need this. He’s here to support me, to coach me, to make me a better player than I was yesterday.’”
Sollom is certainly a better player than she’s been at any point during her four-year varsity career at Hartland.
The 6-foot-3 Saginaw Valley State University recruit scored 10 of her game-high 14 points during a third-quarter surge Friday night that carried the Eagles to a 47-26 victory over Brighton.
Sollom, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, is the leading scorer on a talented and balanced Hartland team, averaging 11.2 points per game. She scored 24 points against Salem on Jan. 7, the most points by an Eagle since Nikki Dompierre scored 26 against Walled Lake Western in the 2019 regional semifinals.
While he’s sometimes gruff, Palmer can also be a source of encouragement for his players.
“I’ve always told her, and she never believes me, that her best basketball is ahead of her,” Palmer said. “I say, ‘You’re the best athlete in your family full of great athletes.’ So, I think her best basketball is still ahead of her. She’s having a great season for us. She’s our leading scorer, leading rebounder.”
Hartland, which had a 33-game regular-season winning streak end Tuesday at Howell, jumped out to a 20-9 lead. Brighton crept back into the game by halftime, reducing the lead to 21-16.
The Bulldogs could have been in better shape, but were 3-for-12 from the line in the first half.
Sollom scored the first five points of the second half, triggering a 16-3 run that put the Eagles comfortably ahead.
Hartland held Brighton to 10 points in the second half.
“We missed a lot of free throws in the first half,” Brighton coach Paul Ash said. “We think if we make half our free throws, we’re probably close to a tie game. We always talk about the first two minutes of the second half are so important. Hartland responded to it; we didn’t. We got quick in our possessions. You’ve got to move a big team around, otherwise you drive and they’re right there.”
Amanda Roach had 10 points, including six in the third quarter, while Leah Lappin had eight points for Hartland.
Sarah Ebel had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Jessica Andrew seven points and five rebounds for Brighton (6-3).
The second-ranked Eagles (8-1) haven’t had to respond to a loss very often in the past few seasons, so their performance was an encouraging sign for Palmer.
“They were resilient,” Palmer said. “I was very worried about it. We just kind of walked out with our elbows on the ground walking out to that bus in Howell. When you win as many games as these kids have, you’re gonna get beat; it’s the nature of the beast. I’m glad they’re resilient. We needed it tonight.”
Hartland remains one game behind Howell in the KLAA West race. Howell is 5-0, Hartland is 4-1 and Brighton is 3-2.
Contact Bill Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BillKhan.
This article originally appeared on Livingston Daily: Playing her best basketball, Lauren Sollom lifts Hartland past Brighton