Male Area Athlete of the Week: Hooge averages double-double for Pillager
Pillager sophomore earns area athlete of the week
It was a monster night for Christian Hooge Thursday, Jan. 19.
The Pillager sophomore scored 33 points and ripped down 23 rebounds to help the Huskies grab an 83-63 Park Region Conference victory against Menahga.
“I was getting the ball in the right spots and scoring when I had to,” Hooge said. “I was taking advantage when I had the ball in my hands. I was just locked in before the game and we needed a conference win. It just felt like anything I shot was going in so I just kept shooting.”
Pillager head coach Jim Bentson said Hooge did a good job of attacking the basket against Menagha.
“He went coast-to-coast for us a couple of times,” Bentson said. “He shot well from around the rim and is developing his presence there as a post player.”
He followed it with an 18-point, 15-rebound performance Friday, Jan. 20, to get Pillager a 68-65 double-overtime victory over Proctor.
Hooge started the week by leading the Huskies with 12 points in a loss to Henning Jan. 17.
Through 12 games, Hooge, who stands 6-foot-5, leads the Huskies at 17.1 points and 14.3 rebounds per game.
“It feels good to be in this role,” Hooge said. “I feel honored and it is a privilege to do it as a sophomore. I feel like my hard work has paid off. It took a while to get into the swing of things starting as a sophomore.”
Bentson said playing AAU this summer helped Hooge improve a lot.
“He played many different positions this summer and then when we asked him to play the post I think he accepted it with open arms,” Bentson said. “We got him in around the basket and he does a lot of great things there. He’s still working on his footwork and his shot.”
Hooge recorded 22 points and 15 rebounds in a 77-54 win over Sebeka Jan. 10.
He tallied 19 points and 21 rebounds against Bertha-Hewitt Dec. 8. He followed it with 20 points and 13 rebounds in a win against Verndale Dec. 16.
“We are really young,” Bentson said. “So he is leading a group of young men as they progress. We lost a lot of seniors last year and struggled as a group last year. He is just growing every game and his teammates are growing with him.”
He has snatched 10 rebounds in every game except Pillager’s opening game against Pequot Lakes.
“My length helps me rebound,” Hooge said. “I can create space with my long arms to score layups and block on defense.”
Bentson added: “Unfortunately, a lot of times he rebounds his own shot. We tease him about padding his stats, but really the kid doesn’t. He works hard and he is only a sophomore which allows us to play more defensive sets whether it be a 2-3 zone or 1-2-2 zone putting him on the blocks. He doesn’t pick up cheap fouls and just really has evolved as the year has progressed.”
He played in 15 games as a freshman and averaged 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds.
Hooge said junior Parker Schaefer has taken him under his wing a little bit this year.
“He’s been a good friend to me,” Hooge said. “We’ve been friends for a while, but this year he has helped me with the offense and all that.”
Hooge said the biggest improvements to his game have been ball handling and being more physical.
“I felt like I was more timid as a freshman last year,” he said.
Bentson says Hooge will joke with him about playing point guard and although Bentson never wants to get to that point he said Hooge probably would be fine at guard.
“He’s the kind of kid that could help dribble the ball against the press and allow us to do that,” Bentson said.
Bentson added Hooge’s maturity has really improved from his freshman season to his sophomore season.
“He has matured ten-fold since we’ve had him as a freshman,” he said. “He’s not looking for every call and understands that there is going to be some physicality down there on the block. It is great to see him play through that. He is going to work hard. He’s always been a hard worker. When we had the gym open this summer, he was always here shooting, trying to get that edge. He is just always trying to get better. He shoots in the morning and holds his teammates accountable.”
Other notable performances:
Hockey: Connor Davis, Wadena-Deer Creek, recorded three goals and two assists for the Wolverines.
Basketball: Isaiah Schultz, Staples-Motley, finished with 25 points against Park Rapids and 31 points against Royalton.
Parker Schaefer, Pillager, scored 21 points against Proctor.
Beau Thoma, Little Falls, scored 23 points against Albany.
Jaden Schulke, Verndale, scored 20 points against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.
Highlights: He recorded 33 points and 23 rebounds against Menahga.