Hardison brothers bond on court

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Brothers Jalen and Arthur Hardison have been teammates on the Newfield basketball team since last year, when Jalen was in eighth grade. Arthur, now a junior role player for the Trojans, helped shape Jalen into the young starting point guard for the 13th-ranked team in the state.

They both picked up the sport as kids thanks to their father, Art, and haven’t looked back. When Jalen reached the varsity level before his freshman year, his older brother saw all their hard work coming together.

“It was a crazy moment,” Arthur said. “I was so proud of him. He delivered. He was brought up, started, did what he needed to do. He’s continuing to grow and get better. I’m proud of him.”

Jalen flourished in his eighth-grade season, averaging over eight points per game. This year, he’s developed his aggressive style of driving to the basket, which was originally inspired by Arthur.

“When I was little, I tried to base my game off what he did,” Jalen said. “He used to be a big man, but then he became a guard. We were both guards, and I just wanted to be like him, just driving to the rim, being able to dribble, everything. He knew every position.”

Of course, being only two years apart, there was plenty of brotherly competition between the Hardisons.

“We grew up doing everything together,” Jalen said. “We used to play one-on-one all the time. It was always a battle back and forth between each other.”

Arthur provided more details than Jalen, saying that he’d always come out on top in their games.

“He’d usually get mad because I’d always beat him,” Arthur said. “Every time I hit a game-winning shot, he’d say, ‘No, that doesn’t count. We have to run it back.’”

As heated as it would get on the court, Jalen recalled that it would always end with hugs. Now they’re competing for the same goals.

“There’s no better feeling than being out there with your blood and doing what you love to do,” Arthur said. “There’s just no better feeling.”

Jalen echoed that sentiment.

“It means everything,” Jalen said. “We love playing with each other. That’s just our favorite thing, coming out and playing on the same team. It’s great.”

Newfield and the Hardisons recently hit a rare roadblock, suffering their first loss since the season opener when they lost 67-65 to Candor on Feb. 4. In that game, the Trojans could not hold on to a 12-point halftime lead, and Arthur explained what they learned.

“Hustling and getting rebounds is the most important part of this game,” Arthur said. “It doesn’t always come down to skill or talent; it’s that hustle. If you get out-hustled, you’ll lose more than you win.”

After 14 straight wins, taking an unexpected loss is obviously not a good feeling. Jalen intends on avoiding those lows the rest of the way.

“We’re just going to use that as motivation for the rest of the season,” Jalen said. “We’re going to keep it in our heads that we have to play our best at all times.”

Arthur continued where Jalen left off, explaining how taking that loss late in the season could end up having a positive effect on the team.

“No matter what,” Arthur said. “Any given night, any team can be taken down. I think it was a good thing for us because it’s not going to define us, it shapes us.”

The strong bond of the Trojans goes beyond the Hardison brothers, and Jalen attributes the team’s success this season to that.

“Off the court, we’re all really close,” Jalen said. “We go to Buffalo Wild Wings after every Friday game together. We just have chemistry on and off the court. We just try to stay together.”

With only one game remaining in the regular season, Newfield has playoffs on the mind. Last year, their season ended in the Section IV semifinals against Unadilla Valley. They’d like to surpass that finish and ride out the team’s success as long as possible.

“We want to go as far as we can,” Jalen said. “We think we can go really far with what we have.”

Newfield wraps up the regular season on Friday against Trumansburg before taking on the sixth-ranked team in the state at the Class D level, Marathon, in the IAC Championship on Feb. 20 at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

The Trumansburg game will take place at home in front of a crowd that Arthur describes as, “everything you could want as a player.”

Regardless of what happens in the playoffs this season, Jalen and Arthur will have one more season to share the court in Trojan green before Arthur graduates. From building their brotherly rivalry with one-on-one games to causing the fans in Sue France Gymnasium to erupt, it’s been a journey to remember for the Hardisons.

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