Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Home News
Friday, Feb. 13, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Just like most basketball fans do not refer to Magic Johnson by his real name, those involved with the Cimarron-Memorial hoops program do not address Brayden Quackenbush by what is on his birth certificate. To the Spartans, their senior shooting guard is simply known as "Quack."
"Outside of basketball, most people call me Brayden, but here, the only name I go by is 'Quack,'" Quackenbush said. "One day our assistant coach tried to call me 'Brayden,' but he just ended up saying 'Brandon.' So he went back to 'Quack' because there's no way you're getting that mixed up with anything else."
Cimarron coach Steve Boyack said the nickname is not intended to tease as much it is to show affection for one of the school's most beloved student athletes.
"He's well-liked around the community because he's a quality kid," Boyack said. "He's close to a 4.0 student."
Prior to the season, Quackenbush was voted on as a co-captain by teammates.
"When things break down, he's the one that pulls it back together on the floor," Boyack said. "He doesn't make mistakes. He's a great kid, very heady on the floor and he knows what we're wanting to do as coaches."
Cimarron senior forward Dale Puckett, who is the Spartans' other co-captain, said Quackenbush is a positive influence.
"He's one of those guys that's good to have not only as a teammate, but as a friend as well," Puckett said. "He's real down to Earth. He's a real smart guy. He makes good decisions on and off the court."
Quackenbush's value became clear during a play-in game to make the Sunset Regional playoffs last season against Centennial.
Cimarrron was trailing in the contest when Quackenbush was violently elbowed just above the eye.
"It dropped him to the ground and there was blood all over the place," Boyack said. "He would have kept playing, but he couldn't in that game. The guys rallied around that, saying 'We're going to go win this for 'Quack.'"
Cimarron ended up winning the contest and made the playoffs, narrowly losing to state title contender Bishop Gorman in the quarterfinal.
Quackenbush played with a large patch around his head and still has a noticeable scar above his eye to commemorate the incident.
"Coach was getting in our face for not playing hard that Centennial game," Quackenbush said. "Then after I got hit in the face I was in the back room getting stitched up. When I came back out, next thing I knew we were up by 5 or 6 points. So hopefully it helped."
Quackenbush has also received credit for keeping Cimarron together after the loss of Michael Cutright, who led Southern Nevada in scoring as a junior for the Spartans last year before transferring to Cheyenne shortly before the start of season. Cutright was ruled ineligible at Cheyenne.
"That was a surprise to all of us," Quackenbush said. "We were some of the last people to know in some cases with the news and parents at other schools talking about it. The next thing we knew, he was gone and it was a different team without him. Changes had to made at the last minute to keep our team together."
After losing Cutright's nearly 30 points a game, Cimarron had to change its entire offense to get all five players involved.
It wasn't an easy transition, but Quackenbush said he was proud the Spartans didn't fall apart and currently have battled to a 14-15 record as of Feb. 9.
"(Cutright leaving) was a shock to everybody," Boyack said. "But (Quackenbush) was one that didn't let it phase him. He just said 'We'll go with what we've got,' and in a sense, he helped keep them together."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.