MICHIGAN CITY — He didn’t know it at the time, but Jamie Hodges, Jr. had two chances to etch his name into the school record books in the second quarter of the Wolves’ 74-63 win over Calumet.
Coming into Saturday night’s contest, the Michigan City freshman guard sat eight points behind Tony Branch for the second-most points scored by a freshman in M.C. boys basketball history, including Elston and Rogers high schools before the schools merged in 1995.
Branch scored 264 points in the 1972-73 season. The only freshman in school history to surpass Branch’s total was the great Delray Brooks in 1980-81, when he scored 374 points in his first year as a high-schooler.
That is, until Saturday night. In the middle of the second quarter, Hodges stood at the free throw line with eight points already to his name. One free throw and he would pass Branch. He missed the front end, but converted on the second.
Hodges didn’t stop there, though. In fact, his night was just getting going. He scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half alone, shooting an efficient 6-for-12 in the game and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Hodges’ performance led the team in scoring, followed by senior forward Caron McKinney, who dropped 19 on an impressive 7-of-9 shooting and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe.
“He did the same thing last night,” Michigan City coach Tom Wells said. “I’m not even surprised by stuff like this from him anymore. When he gets a chance to play downhill, he’s really hard to guard. He’s just a freshman and it’s really nice knowing he has the keys to the bus for three more years after this.”
The only way to tell Hodges is a freshman is by looking at the roster and seeing the “9” under his slated grade next to his name. His game is far from that of a 15-year-old.
“Emotionally, he doesn’t get too high or too low,” Wells said. “That’s a very mature trait. You don’t get that out of many 15-year olds. A lot of times, you’ll get severe emotional highs and lows with them. But not with Jamie. He just has a way of playing next play. It’s a common saying in football, but it’s also true in basketball, especially as a point guard. The ball’s in your hands so much that you’re going to make some mistakes. But you’ve got to have that mindset of next play, and he does that very well.”
While Hodges’ play and his most recent accolade may suggest he prides himself on scoring, that’s far from the case. He’s a creative passer and is as active as anyone on the defensive end.
“I work hard on all parts of my game in practice every day,” Hodges said. “Really, I just like to defend, mostly, especially on the ball. But if I have to score, I can do that. I’ll go score.”
Hodges’ stats back that up, as he led the team with three steals, tied with sophomore running mate Omarion Hatch. Hodges made sure his presence was felt defensively, bringing some energy to what was a ferocious Michigan City defense in the second half.
But the main source of energy on the defensive end and the boards was the hyperactice McKinney, who grabbed eight rebounds – five of them offensive – accrued a block and steal, and drew multiple charges. His hustle was the most apparent thing on the court, as his modest size didn’t stop him from dominating in the post in every facet of the game.
“He’s a big energy guy,” Wells said. “At 6-foot-2, he’s an undersized post player, but boy is he pretty aggressive in there. The thing is, if you watch us practice, he does that six days a week. It’s torture on his body, but he’s very, very high-energy and gives us that extra boost when we need it.”
McKinney and Hodges were two of four Wolves to score in double digits against the Warriors (8-11), joined by senior guard Dez’Mand Hawkins and junior forward Evan Bush, who scored 11 points apiece for City (14-5).