With Jacob Lafferty standing 6-foot-5 and Walker Loveland being 5-5, the consensus is it actually makes perfect sense they are best friends.
As the Sparta sophomores point out, every center and point guard should make a point of getting along exceptionally well.
“A ‘big’ and a guard should always have a good connection,” Loveland said. “Without me, he may not get as many good shots as he gets and without him, we don’t have rebounds and the ball. I always want him in the best mood possible because I need him to give it his all and I’m going to give it my all.”
“You can’t be on the wrong side of him,” Lafferty said of his point guard. “He’s the one who is going to fill my bucket for points.”
Off the hardwood, Lafferty said the response they get from other friends and new acquaintances also is that it’s only natural they are best buddies.
“People say we’re supposed to be best friends,” he said. “You always have a tall friend and a short friend as two best friends, it all evens out.”
Lafferty and Loveland have Sparta (18-10) reaching new heights. The No. 4 seeded Trojans are fresh from Class 3 District 11 wins versus Spokane and No. 1 seeded Skyline earlier this week, propelling them to a title tilt matchup against No. 2 seed Strafford on Friday.
Both Lafferty and Loveland scored 17 points in Sparta’s upset of Skyline. In addition, they both had 11 points in the second half.
Loveland made all four of his free-throw attempts in the final minutes to help wrap up the Trojans’ win. While at the foul line, he received an assist from Lafferty in the form of a pep talk.
“Those free throws, I don’t think I could have done it without him there,” Loveland said. “You know the little guy that is whispering in your ear and telling you what you can’t do. Jacob came over to me and said, ‘Just breathe, you’ve got this,’ and he knocked that ‘little man’ right off my shoulders. I greatly appreciate everything he does for me and the team.”
The two have grown up all along in Sparta and been besties for about as long as they can remember.
“We’d play tag in pre-school and have fun on the monkey bars,” Lafferty said.
“We had a little sandbox that we’d play in,” Loveland said. “Even in pre-school, he was a foot taller than me. He was always fun to be around. It’s kind of funny to compare your height with other people.”
As the years went by and they both took a strong interest in basketball, they began to realize how well they complement each other on the court.
“In middle school, we contributed a lot to our team,” Loveland said. “Me and him had to get closer to each other to offer more to the team. Basketball brought us together more than anything.”
“In fourth grade, I was about 5-foot and he was 3-foot,” Lafferty said. “Fast forward just a few years and we’re here.”
Lafferty and Loveland give each other good-natured ribbings about anything and everything. But as Lafferty showed by knocking the ‘little man’ off of Loveland’s shoulders, they’re not going to let anyone else take a shot at the other.
“They give each other a hard time and they’re around each other 24-7,” Sparta coach Deric Link said. “They talk to each other all the time and will give it right back to each other.”
Drop in at a Sparta practice and if one didn’t know Lafferty and Loveland were best friends, it would be easy to assume they are rivals.
“We’re pretty much brothers,” Lafferty said. “We walk on the floor and we’re going to fight, argue and yell at each other. We’re going to make sure we get the best out of each other. We’re always honest with each other. We’ll tell each other straight-up about what’s wrong and then we’ll fix it.”
“I love that kid to death,” Loveland said. “On the floor, we kind of argue a little bit. That’s because he wants the best out of me and I want the best out of him.”