QUICKSBURG — Michael Stout knew he was going to need to be more of a scorer this season and so far he’s achieved it.
The Stonewall Jackson senior leads the Generals in scoring in the first half of the boys basketball season.
“I had to step up and do more because we got to have more scorers,” Stout said. “I had to step up and be a scorer and that’s good. But I wish we would win more games with the scoring but that will come hopefully.”
Basketball runs in Stout’s family; his dad, older brother, aunts, uncles and cousins all played basketball, most of them at Stonewall Jackson.
“I never really get tired of (playing),” Stout said. “It’s all I really know and everybody in my family — it’s all basketball. So it’s either playing it or watching it.”
Stout said that his dad taught him how to play when he was younger and he fell in love with the game. He said he’s also been playing Amatuer Athletic Union basketball since eighth grade for the Harrisonburg Hornets, but he prefers playing high school basketball.
Last year the 5-foot-10 shooting guard moved up to varsity. He was second on the team, averaging 5.4 points with 1.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
“I feel like last year we should have done a lot better than we did,” Stout said. “I feel like I have a bigger role this year, being a senior. Last year, we had two seniors and this year we have a lot more. I’m hoping we do a lot better than we are right now.”
Stonewall Jackson boys basketball coach Jim Sanders said that Stout struggled at times getting off his shot and getting open looks last year, but has improved a lot this season.
“He’s worked on it,” Sanders said of Stout’s shot. “We saw it during summer, when went to camps. We saw it during fall league and fortunately for us at times he’s been able to do it during games this year.”
A lot of his success this season has come from working hard and the experience he gained from last season on the varsity team.
Stout has always been a solid shooter and he said it is his favorite part of the game, especially making 3-pointers.
“I feel like it just gets my whole game going,” Stout said of making 3-pointers. “If you see a 3 go in or any shot but mostly 3’s, because it’s deeper range, it just gets you going. It gets your confidence up, makes you feel like you’re going to hit your next shot.”
Stout said he has had several games this season where he has hit five or six 3-pointers in a game. In a 64-45 loss to Buffalo Gap on Jan. 6, Stout went 5-for-7 from 3-point range and had a game-high 19 points. He’s given the Generals a real spark this season.
Sanders said he hopes that Stout’s teammates see how hard Stout has worked on his game and it encourages them to do the same.
“Michael has put quite a bit of time in it, in terms of getting in the gyms and shooting,” Sanders said. “I’ve been proud of him for doing that. And I hope other people recognize that. I think we’ve got a few there that don’t realize that they can do that for themselves. So hopefully they’ll catch on to it.”
Another thing that has helped Stout has been a growth spurt. Stout grew several inches over the last year and Sanders said that has helped his game, especially on defense.
“He’s gotten better,” Sanders said of Stout’s defense. “I think the big thing for him defensively, in some ways, is he’s grown a little bit. He definitely sprouted up a little bit. He definitely got a lot taller than what he was. That’s helped him out quite a bit. I think, too, he understands what we’re doing defensively, and he’s able to anticipate some things and make some things happen out there.”
The Generals, who host Clarke County tonight, have lost 11 straight games after winning their season opener against William Monroe. Stonewall Jackson has lost several close games and Stout said the team still has time to turn things around and begin winning the close contests.
He said they need to get back to playing how they were playing over the summer.
“I just want us to all get better and progress as the season goes on and try to pick up more wins and just go as far as we can,” Stout said. “During the summer, we went to camps and during fall league we were playing really well. I kind of feel like we fell back just a little bit, but if we can just get back to that point and go even further then we’ll be pretty good.”