Port Clinton's Beasley charges into mix among top players in SBC Bay Division
It's a good thing Jackson Beasley's ankle snapped when he was a freshman.
If not for the seeming mishap, Beasley wouldn't have rehabbed the way he did. It turned into preparation for a sophomore season when Port Clinton coach Ryan Hicks threw the sophomore into the fire.
The indoctrination enabled Beasley to progress into one of the top players in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division as a junior.
"I was injured in the first game as a freshman," he said. "It was important that everything I went through in the summer and offseason built to being a factor. It was our best year in 13 years. It was important to me to be a piece of that team and contribute.
"I had to adjust to deal with my frustration. Coach would tell me I'm an eighth-grader on varsity, which is basically right. I stayed in the right mindset and the transition was easier. It was a lot to get used to and I had to perform to meet everybody's standards.
"The pressure was definitely on."
Beasley averages 14.9 points and leads the team at eight rebounds per game. He's the top free throw shooter at 77 percent, he shoots 57.3 from the field and 32.8 from 3-point range (19 of 58).
"I took it to the next level this summer," he said. "After my injury, I was going hard, but this summer I was totally invested. If the gym was open, I'd be there. I was trying to build to make this season special and perform in a way that would improve the team from last year."
Beasley averaged 6.4 points as a starter last season. He made 19 3-pointers and was generally a strong shooter.
"He stepped up in the biggest way possible," senior Adam Thorbahn said. "He's that second threat and second person that will be there every night. He's consistent, that's the biggest jump from sophomore to junior.
"That's been big. He was a little sophomore, as a freshman he was hurt. Playing as many minutes as he did as a sophomore, he was a baby in a tough spot to get that many minutes. From sophomore year he knows what he had to do and he knew the pace."
He's no longer intimidated.
"Confidence," he said. "I had a lot of seniors and talented players as a sophomore to take shots. I have a bigger role and more is expected, so I have more freedom to shot and get busy. Confidence plays a huge role.
"Basketball being taken away was hard and I learned a lot with my work ethic and my mental shot up.""
He's had the benefit of playing off Thorbahn's game. Thorbahn leads the team at 17.5 points and 3.4 assists per game.
He adds 7.3 rebounds and shoots 49.3 percent from the field and 34.3 from behind the arc (23 of 67).
"His ability to make shots," Beasley said. "He's so used to double teams the last few years. He's developed his game to make difficult shots and his pure athletic ability, he's big and he can play in the post or on the perimeter.
"He's very skilled. He's a big football player, but he's absolutely amazing at basketball."
Cam Gillum and Owen Auxter have carved less heralded roles. That's only if you don't know.
"Cam is tough," Beasley said. "He's our defensive guy, they both are. Cam guards the best player night in and night out. He has one of the hardest jobs. Owen is our Swiss Army knife, he does it all. Lately he hit a couple 3s.
"Offensive rebounds, dive on the floor. They both do. We're not nearly as successful without them."
Port Clinton and Margaretta are tied with three losses in the SBC Bay Division standings. Willard has one loss and Huron two, including a setback among Port Clinton's biggest wins since Hicks was a player more than 10 years ago.
"We had our eyes set on the SBC championship," Beasley said. "We're still doing what we can, and we hope to get a district championship. We lost some close games. We can match up and beat anybody in the Bay."
Port Clinton beat Bellevue (11-3) in an SBC crossover.
"My sophomore year wasn't individually where I wanted," Beasley said. "I could have played better even though I was happy with the team. My goals jumped exponentially, to get past district as a team and be an SBC first-team player."
Beasley knows to take nothing for granted.
"It was rough," he said of missing freshman year. "The doctor wanted to be conservative. I only missed one AAU tournament. That summer and into next season, it was rehab and trying to get back to 100 percent. I wasn't worried.
"I put in enough work I was confident. I wasn't worried about reinjury. If I didn't get in the gym as much, I probably wouldn't have started. By the end of the summer I was back to myself and it was go time."
This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Jackson Beasley never looked back after injury for Port Clinton boys