Oak Creek's two-time Now All-Suburban guard Harrison Cleary has a position as the basketball team's hard-working, highly-skilled role model and star.
He became the program's all-time leading scorer this year, working hard to fill the shoes left by former Knight All-Suburban forward Terrence Garner, who was a senior when Cleary was a freshman. He never let up all four years, even this season, working hard at the end of every practice and taking hundreds of extra shots with the help of coach Mike Jossie.
Jossie was paying Cleary back in a way for all the selfless and encouraging work Cleary did at the various Oak Creek youth camps held over the summer.
The 13-10 record the Knights turned in this winter was the best for the team since that 2012-13 season with Garner, but it was not the conference-title-chasing effort Cleary or the rest of the Oak Creek team wanted, even with him earning Southeast Conference co-Player of the Year honors and WBCA All-State honorable-mention accolades.
Still, Cleary is looking at the big picture. There is hope for the future as there are key pieces to the puzzle coming back next year, and the program had that rare encouraging sequence where all three levels, junior varsity and freshmen included, all posted winning records.
So Cleary, who has a scholarship to play ball next season at NCAA DII Minnesota-Crookston, will see the glass as half full as he approaches graduation and will look forward to hopefully coming back to see far more successful Oak Creek teams in the future.
'I think of all the things I tried to accomplish here, the thing I'm proudest of, is that of trying to change the culture around here,' he said. 'Make it a basketball school. The winning record and the records that were set were all nice, but I hope people behind me come back and do more.
'We wanted to reach higher goals. Hopefully this can be used as a stepping stone for next year.'
The example Cleary set is the thing coach Jossie wants people to remember about him.
He scored 449 points for a 19.5-per-game mark, drained 34 3-pointers and hit 81 percent of his free throws (74-91) and finished with 1,311 career points, beating the old school mark held by Knights baseball and hoops legend Tony Butler.
The four-year letter winner Cleary increased his point total every season, but was never about the numbers and was always trying to improve the team. Jossie said he learned how to handle double and triple teams very well and would rarely force a shot. His distribution skills were much improved as a result as he averaged three assists a game.
Behind his efforts, the Knights were in the Southeast Conference race until the final games. He was an academic ace too with a 3.9 GPA and worked very hard with the Oak Creek youth programs in the off-season.
'Kids flocked to him,' Jossie said.
Not surprisingly, he also won the Team Dedication award.
'He knew going into the season that everyone was going to key on him, but he maintained the attitude of 'The team needs me to do more,'' Jossie said, 'but he still worked very hard and got the job done ... he would work with team, help them out and then keep on working with me until 10 p.m. sometimes.'
'He really set an example.'
In Cleary's eyes, he's just standing on the shoulders of giants. He remains grateful for the time Garner spent with him with three years ago and knows the large shadow Butler casts around the gym and baseball diamond.
'Terrence Garner was the first person I was introduced to around here when I was brought up my freshman year,' Cleary said. 'He was a great leader, and I wanted to be like him. In fact, I remember talking at the end of last season that one of the things I really wanted to improve upon was my leadership skills, in all aspects.'
He appreciated the help he got from his senior friends and co-captains, Macen Leonardi and Mitch Magyar.
'We all talked about each other at the banquet in our speeches,' he said, 'about four years of working hard and leadership and about how it's the last time playing basketball for a lot of us. I'm lucky in that regard, I still get to go on (at Crookston).
'And Tony Butler, he's a hero here. His name is on so many record books. To now see my name on some of those records now is something very special.'
Cleary also thanked Jossie for the extra help.
'Sometimes I didn't think it was fair,' Cleary said. 'He lives all the way out in West Allis, and my house is less than 10 minutes from school, but he said he'd do it all over for me.'
It was easy, Jossie said.
'Harrison's such a great kid,' he said.
Cleary will hit the books and look to finish off things well before graduation.
He will then continue to refine his skills for the next venture in his basketball career. Crookston is in the far north and west of Minnesota about 20 minutes from the North Dakota border. He said the team got its final recruit, a player from McFarland, who will be his roommate next fall.
He wants to bulk up a little (he's about 160 pounds right now) to handle the more physical aspects of college basketball, especially at the point guard position he's slated to fill.
And as usual, Cleary's major goals keep to the same themes he used to succeed at Oak Creek.
'I'm working really hard on getting stronger,' he said. 'I just want to keep on improving,'