Jestes plays for place among Hebron greats

January 12, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Mount Hebron has had many great basketball teams and many great basketball players.

The names Barry Young, Perry Young, Cliff Rees, Brian Vacca, Ray Peele, Leroy Scott, Lionel Thomas, Lester Wallace, Greg Blake and Wayne Simonsen come readily to mind.

Kurtis Jestes, a junior guard for the Vikings, is averaging 25 points this season and showing signs that before his career ends he'll rank among Mount Hebron's all-time elite players.

His 25-point average isn't far from Mount Hebron's single-season record of 27.8 set by Barry Young in the 1986-87 season. Young is Mount Hebron's all-time leading scorer with 2,153 points.

And Jestes' shooting percentage of 62.4 also threatens the school record of 65 percent set by Lionel Thomas in the 1973-74 season.

Jestes has been consistent at any distance. He is shooting 63 percent (30-for-47) from two-point range and 61 percent (33-for-54) from three-point range. He currently ranks fourth among Baltimore metro area scorers.

But he's realistic enough to realize that things will get a lot tougher in the league season than they have been in the nonleague season.

"I wasn't double-teamed out of county but expect to be in county games," he said.

His career high of 34 points was scored against Loyola, the toughest team on Mount Hebron's schedule so far. In that game, he also scored a career-high seven three-point baskets, as the Vikings earned a rare victory over the Dons.

He also scored 31 in a win over South Carroll in the Mount Hebron Holiday Classic championship game. The Cavaliers were the second-best team the Vikings have faced.

Jestes made a crucial three-pointer after the Cavaliers had rallied to within four points, 44-40, with 58 seconds to play in the third quarter. Then he scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter for the Vikings as they went ahead 55-42.

South Carroll coach Jim Carnes was impressed by Jestes. "He was awesome," Carnes said. "We were concentrating on trying to shut him down but he still hurt us."

Jestes' main goal is team-oriented.

"I'd like to play on a Mount Hebron team that is good again," he said.

He's close to getting that wish. The Vikings have won their first nine games, a start that has raised expectations to high levels.

"This is a great group and I really think we can be competitive," Vikings coach Scott Robinson said. "Kurt is a money player who is deceptively quick, can take it to the basket and can shoot off the dribble now. He's improved both his shooting and his ball-handling since last season."

His high game last season, when he was forced to play point guard, was 23 against Hammond.

Jestes had a goal of wanting to play varsity as a freshman and was one of those rare players who accomplished that goal. As sixth man his freshman season, he averaged three points.

"The first time I saw him play in eighth grade I thought he'd wind up on junior varsity his freshman season, but by that summer I realized he'd be one of our top seven players," Robinson said.

Last season Jestes picked up his scoring to 12.8 points per game. He already has 580 career points and might reach the 900 mark before the season ends.

"In the eighth grade, Kurt was the center on his Howard County Youth Program team and wasn't really a shooter," Robinson said. "But he has a work ethic like no other kid I've coached and has great shooting technique now. He's playing with confidence and has come into his own."

Jestes, 6 feet 1 and 160 pounds, is quick but will face players who are quicker when the Vikings play teams such as Wilde Lake, Atholton, Hammond and Howard.

He leads most of Mount Hebron's fast breaks and is adept at scoring on layups -- a fact that helps boost his shooting percentage.

He played in three summer leagues last summer and attended the Five Star Camp in Pittsburgh.

"Kurt loves to play and it shows," Robinson said.

Robinson thinks it is still too soon to tell at what level Jestes will play in college.

"But he'll definitely be a college player," Robinson said.

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