Kodiak Daily Mirror - Swearingin leads seniors into home finale
Swearingin leads seniors into home finale
by Derek Clarkston / sports@kodiakdailymirror.com
Feb 24, 2012 | 78 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Josh Bezona, left, Jesse Swearingin and Tony Will are playing in their final home games for Kodiak’s boys basketball team tonight and Saturday against Palmer.(Derek Clarkston photo)
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Late Monday night, Jesse Swearingin and Tony Will put on a show for the City League volleyball players filtering into the Kodiak High School gym.

For a good five minutes, Will repeatedly bounced a basketball off the backboard, while Swearingin soared off the court, plucked the ball out of the air and attempted to flush it through the hoop with two hands.

None were successful, but all were close.

The two Kodiak seniors are hoping to pull of the Harlem Globetrotter-esque move during their final home games Friday and Saturday against Palmer.

“Have your camera ready if we get out on a fast break,” Will said.

A dunk at home would put an exclamation point on a season when Swearingin has emerged as Kodiak’s most consistent player.

“I’m definitely going to try,” the 6-foot-2 guard said.

Swearingin dunked for the first time during a game last week against Skyview. He said he practices dunking every chance he gets and Kodiak coach David Anderson finally gave him the green light to attempt one in a game.

“He told me this season if I could do it consistently in practice he would let me do it in a game,” Swearingin said. “I was smiling all the way down the court after I did it.”

Swearingin’s game is more than dunks. He leads Kodiak with 13.9 points per game and has posted double figures in points in 14 of the Bears’ 20 games.

All this comes after he played in only eight varsity games last season.

Swearingin doesn’t know what clicked, but he is enjoying every bit of his success.

“I really can’t put my finger on it,” Swearingin said. “All I know is a lot more time in the gym. I played all summer and I was here for preseason. The more time I have been in here, the better I have gotten.”

Anderson said he was expecting Swearingin to be one of Kodiak’s top players, but did not predict him to be one of the top players in the Northern Lights Conference.

“That summer program really brought him around,” Anderson said, referring to Kodiak’s trip to a Gonzaga summer camp in Washington. “He played against some great competition down there and figured out what he needed to do to score. He has just matured so much during the middle of the season that he has finally come around to what we wanted to see.”

Swearingin said the camp really opened his eyes to how the game is supposed to be played.

“We met a lot of coaches down there and every one of them said that your defense should dictate how you play on offense,” Swearingin said. “Sometimes my offense would dictate how I played on defense. I would make a bad shot and then play bad on defense and let the team down.”

That was one of the reasons Swearingin didn’t see much varsity time as a junior.

“He gets real frustrated when he is down and it is tough to get him back up,” Anderson said. “We had a nice talk with him this summer about how he has to keep his emotions under control and it’s worked real well.”

The talk has led to Swearingin’s best season at any level, and now Anderson wants the ball in Swearingin’s hands with the game on the line.

“He has carried this team quite a bit this year,” Anderson said. “Most teams can’t say they have only one player who has absolutely carried the team, and he has done it.

“He has taken a couple of big shots for us that could have gone either way. When you call his number it just builds his confidence and that is huge.”

Swearingin scored the go-ahead layup with less than a minute left to beat Homer Saturday, and he has had several chances to give the Bears the lead in the final seconds.

“I definitely want the ball in my hand,” he said. “I wish that I would have been able to make the shots.”

Swearingin’s breakout season has him thinking about his options beyond high school.

“I don’t really mind at what level, I just want to play at the college level,” he said.

Tony Will

Will is making up for lost time on the court, as this is only his second year playing high school basketball.

“It’s unfortunate he has missed a couple years of high school basketball, because I think he could be a lot better than what he is,” Anderson said.

Will is averaging 5.8 points per game as a senior.

“I haven’t had this much fun in a long time,” Will said. “This year is all we have left and I am giving it my best.”

Despite the lack of game experience, Anderson said he finds it hard to keep Will off the court.

“If you put him down in City League he would probably score 40 points a night. This team thing is pretty difficult for him, but he is such a great athlete that I have to have him out there on the court — rebounding and playing a little defense,” Anderson said.

Josh Bezona

Bezona has the most varsity experience of Kodiak’s three seniors. The 6-3 forward played in 16 games as a sophomore and 23 as a junior.

“He has worked extremely hard and is probably one of our better defenders on the post players,” Anderson said. “This year compared to last year he is a little bit more physical, which is a big plus. He just gives it all he’s got. He is a good rebounder and is a team leader.”

Bezona missed Kodiak’s entire preseason and the first game of the season after spending a semester as a foreign exchange student in Italy.

“I was a little out of shape, but it felt nice to get back into the swing of things,” Bezona said.

Bezona averages 2.3 points per game, but does many things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

“He is one of those role players that if they accept their role it makes the team a lot better, and he has accepted his role as a defensive player and a rebounder,” Anderson said.

Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiak

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