Kyle Case showed great promise as a starting guard during his sophomore year at Washington Academy in East Machias last winter.
But when he was diagnosed in March with a hip impingement, a condition that produces abnormal contact between the ball and socket of the hip joint that causes increased friction during movement, uncertainty loomed.
Surgery was one option, but Case did not want to miss his junior season of basketball so he and his family opted to attack the condition another way — through a mix of physical therapy, strength training and biking. The 16-year-old rode his mountain bike from his home in East Machias to Lubec almost daily throughout the summer, a 40-mile round trip.
The regimen has paid off, as Case’s hips are “100 percent” today, according to his father, Troy.
That determination also has served Case well in other ways, among them his work as a high honors student, his efforts to thrive on the basketball court despite his modest stature and his desire too help the basketball team rise into tournament contention.
The Raiders were 11-5 entering Tuesday night’s play and, if they can maintain their eighth-place standing, they would earn a home game for next week’s Class B North preliminary round.
Case has made the transition to point guard after starting at shooting guard last year for coach Barry Terrill’s Raiders and is averaging 13.9 points per game.
That includes an 18.7 ppg average over the last nine games while teaming with fellow captains Sean Seavey and Justin Villone as well as Yontz Sutton and Pei-Kai Su to lead the Raiders to a 7-2 record after early season losses to Class B North leaders Mount Desert Island, Hermon and Orono.
“Kyle has certainly been a key part of our success this year,” said Terrill. “He’s only about 5-foot-7 but he’s very quick and he’s an outstanding ball handler. He’s also got a good basketball IQ which has helped us. It’s like having a point guard who is another coach on the floor.”
Case has been among the Raiders’ top free-throw shooters, is shooting 38 percent from the 3-point arc, and uses court savvy to compensate for any lack of height on the defensive end. He has 27 steals so far this winter.
“Defensively a lot of teams will try and post him up, which is something that he and the team are used to and we’ve defended it very well this season,” said Terrill. “Kyle knows all the tricks defensively and he uses his quick feet and hands to his advantage.”
Case, who as a fifth-grader was cut in his first bid to play AAU basketball, was part of a state championship AAU team with Maine Select last year. He also plays travel basketball during the offseason as well as working out with former Washington Academy star Ben Teer, a Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice after leading the Raiders to the 2010 Class C state championship.
Washington Academy concludes its regular season with road games at Old Town (5-11) on Tuesday and at No. 5 Central of Corinth (13-3) on Thursday.