Memorable finish, and season, for Mid-Prairie's Camron Pickard

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 2/26/23

The fingers hurt.

If you glanced at the hand of Mid-Prairie senior guard Camron Pickard this season, you may have noticed his fingers were taped up. Not all the time. But sometimes.

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Memorable finish, and season, for Mid-Prairie's Camron Pickard


The fingers hurt.

If you glanced at the hand of Mid-Prairie senior guard Camron Pickard this season, you may have noticed his fingers were taped up. Not all the time. But sometimes.

There’s a reason and it all goes back a few years when his older brother tortured him by stealing the ball away from him. A life lesson.

Camron changed that.

“He’s got blisters on his fingers from dribbling the basketball so much,” Mid-Prairie head coach Daren Lambert said. “He wants to be great. He wants everyone around him to be great, too. When your best player is your hardest worker, it really sets the tone for the rest of the team.”

And that’s what made the season-ending loss Feb. 17 in Wilton so difficult.

On a night when Caden Kirkman, a 6-foot-7 senior forward for Wilton who is headed to Augustana University in South Dakota as an NCAA DII recruit, had another monster game (35 points and a series of thundering slam-dunks), Pickard tried to rescue the Golden Hawks. He chased after basketballs all over the place. He drove with the ball directly into the heart of Wilton’s defense and against Kirkman. At one point, he was outscoring Kirkman.

“We needed some momentum to get going. We needed to set the tone,” Pickard said. “If I was going to have to score, that’s one way I was going to do it.”

But at the end of the night, the Golden Hawks had their season ended in an 83-61 loss in a Class 2A district tournament, and suddenly a high school career that included a 24-game win streak last year and a 29-point game this year was over for Pickard.

“Just walking in the locker room, all those memories and everything just kind of hit me,” Pickard said.

“It’s … just … been a journey,” he said, struggling to find the words. “Taking these next steps, all the seniors, it’s been a great group. Just thank the coaches for everything they did. It was just a great run.”

The journey goes back to Pickard’s youth, when he was a student in Lambert’s social-studies class at Mid-Prairie Middle School in Kalona and he was getting beat up by older brother Dominic, a 2019 Mid-Prairie graduate and basketball player, in those big brother and young brother hoop games.

“I’ve talked to his parents and they’ve told me stories about how his brother used to beat him (in basketball),” Lambert said. “He refused to play his brother until he got better at ballhandling because he was sick and tired of his brother stealing the basketball. That’s just kind of the mentality he has. He wants to win. He wants to be great.”

Oh, Camron did get better at ballhandling. There was always a basketball around. Looking for Camron? Head to the gym.

“He’s always at the Y,” Lambert said. “He’s always at every open gym. He’s always at every workout. It’s not just showing up. It’s showing up with a purpose.”

Pickard started 22 games this season and played in all 25 games last year as the Golden Hawks won the River Valley South title and cruised into the 2A state tournament. Thrust into a leadership and starting role this year, he ranked among the top five in the River Valley South Conference in both scoring and assists. Precisely what you’d want from a senior point guard.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Lambert said. “It’s pressure I think he was looking forward to. He didn’t shy away from it whatsoever. Right there before Christmas break, he had a couple 20-point games and people were kind of surprised. We’re not. We know the amount of work and the amount of time he’s put in and how much it means to him.”

And that’s why a Friday night tournament loss at Wilton hit so hard. For both player and coach.

“We talked in the locker room, both tearing up,” Lambert said. “It was just a thank you. Like I said to him, he’s going to be successful in whatever area of life, whatever path he wants to go down, just because of the way he’s committed himself to wanting to be great in whatever he chooses to be in.”

That path may include Northwestern College in Orange City, a city in western Iowa.

The ball will be in his hands. And the fingers just may be taped up.

“Thinking of going there and playing some ball,” Pickard said, smiling.

News columnist Paul Bowker can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @bowkerpaul

Mid-Prairie, basketball, Camron Pickard


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