A jolt of confidence

C. Milton Wright guard Jesse Volk steps up his game, becomes team's leading scorer after a frustrating junior season riding the bench

Boys basketball

February 04, 2007|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to the Sun

Jesse Volk grabbed the inbounds pass with 6.2 seconds left in a tied game at Bel Air and took off.

The senior guard from C. Milton Wright sprinted the length of the court, weaving through the Bobcats. Volk stole a peek at the clock before reaching the three-point line. He then went up and under three Bel Air defenders for a finger-roll shot that went in just before the buzzer.

"I don't think he would have taken that shot last year," C. Milton Wright coach Chad Richie said. "But things have changed."

Volk had spent a frustrating junior season on the bench. He averaged about five minutes and two points per game as the Mustangs struggled to a 9-14 record.

Volk was determined not to suffer through that again.

The 6-foot-2, 170-pound shooting guard went to the gym daily and spent several months improving his game and rebuilding his confidence. Volk returned as a new player and quickly became a starter and the team's leading scorer. He is a big reason the Mustangs have improved to 8-3 this season.

Volk was averaging about 16 points through the team's first 11 games and has become the team's go-to guy. Low key and soft-spoken off the court, he has become a leader and won't hesitate to take the shot in key situations

Volk loves to shoot from the wing and especially enjoys taking three-point shots.

"One of my key goals was to be a starter and just to be the player they wanted to go to at the end of the game," Volk said. "I wanted to be a starter and one of the best players on the team, so I just kept working at it."

Basketball has always been his passion. Ralph Volk said they put up a basketball court at their house when his son was about 4 and that Jesse wouldn't hesitate to shoot around for three hours in 95-degree heat.

"He just loves the game," Ralph Volk, said.

Volk began working on his game a few weeks after last season ended. There was nothing fancy. He simply went to the gym to lift weights daily for months, often with his father, and played a lot of basketball.

Volk worked on all aspects of his game. He practiced shooting from the field and the foul line, dribbling, playing defense and anything else that came to mind. He also regularly played in pickup games.

Richie noticed changes when Volk joined the C. Milton Wright team that finished second in an Aberdeen summer league.

"Physically, he just had gotten so much stronger," Richie said. "You could see that aggression and progress."

Volk knew his game was getting better and began to believe in his abilities. He had lost confidence sitting so much last season.

"I knew I could do it, and I just had to get the confidence to do it," Volk said. "At times, I wish I did some stuff differently last year, but I can't change that, so I've got to forget about it."

Volk's transformation didn't surprise teammates such as Eddie Vogel and Jeremy Rice, who had played recreation ball with Volk for several years and knew he had ability.

"His shooting was already good," Vogel said. "He'd come in once in a while last year if we needed him. But now, he's just stepped up and really led the team well."

Volk, Adam Earle (12 points per game) and Rice (10) combine to form a strong scoring trio. Kerwin Selby gives the Mustangs scoring punch off the bench.

"When we need a spark, he'll hit a three and get the crowd going and into it," Rice said of Volk.

Volk also is a good punter and kicker in football and has received interest from colleges for that sport. He hasn't heard much about basketball, mostly because of last year's lack of playing time.

For now, Volk is concentrating on helping C. Milton Wright finish strong and prepare for the playoffs. The Mustangs are battling Aberdeen for first place in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference's Chesapeake Division.

Richie said Volk's shot at Bel Air gave the Mustangs a crucial victory that helped them believe in themselves. Volk agreed that it was a big shot and smiled when asked what would have happened last year.

"Last year, I would have given it up or probably wouldn't have taken the last shot," Volk said. "But I'm happy with just about everything now. It feels good."

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