Ambidextrous Jets off to strong start
By BURT ANGELI
POWERS — North Central’s left-handed shooting competition has moved from practice to actual games.
Jets junior Carter Holle launched a left-handed shot from past the three-point line in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game at North Dickinson. The ball rattled off the rim and fell through for his first southpaw three of the season.
“Carter’s ambidextrous,” said Coach Adam Mercier. “He’s been working on that. He’s a naturally gifted kid.”
The Jets have been working on opposite-hand shooting since senior Hunter Riley has been unable play due to a shoulder rotator cuff injury.
With Riley limited to left-handed shots, the naturally right-handed Holle also got into the act during practice.
“Carter really likes his shot lefty and I do to to be honest with you,” Mercier said. “His outside shot is really good.”
Holle also flipped in a lay-up left-handed against the Nordics. He thought about another wide-open shot Monday but passed to Caleb Walters for a lay-up.
“It’s definitely something he can work on,” said Mercier, who recalled former LSU star “Pistol Pete” Maravich and the way he used both hands. “Carter’s real good around the basket with his left hand. There’s nothing wrong with that and he shot with confidence.”
Holle came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points in the Jets’ 74-41 win.
Mercier knows all about rotator cuff injuries and shooting a basketball left-handed. That was the dilemma for his senior year of basketball.
“I was decent,” Mercier said with a grin. “I had some points my senior year. I didn’t shoot much anyway but I made some shots lefty.
“We were a decent team, made it to the district finals. But I wanted to play and I still had staples in my shoulder.”
Riley will be out for at least another month, according to Mercier. He will then be evaluated to see if he needs shoulder surgery.
“Our hope, of course, is to get him back by the end of the year,” Mercier said of the all-state eight-player football quarterback. “If not, get him ready for pitching a baseball this spring. He’ll rehab to get his shoulder healthy and see where he goes from there.
“Hunter is a great kid and we want to see him bounce back from the injury. He’s doing everything he can as a teammate to stay involved. You really appreciate that from a senior.”
North Central (6-1 overall, 1-0 Skyline Central Conference) looks to avenge its only loss Monday when Rapid River visits Powers. The Rockets defeated the Jets 65-43 on Dec. 7 to end an 84-game winning streak.
Mercier says it’s too early to gauge if this year’s squad can bid for a fourth straight state title. The Jets graduated all-state Jason Whitens and Dawson Bilski along Bobby Kleiman, Marcus Krachinski and Seth Polfus from the 2017 state champs.
“We have a lot of different moving parts, a lot of guys that haven’t played together yet, especially in big games to see where we’re at,” Mercier said. “But I like what I’ve seen in some big games early.
“I’m pretty happy where we’re at.”