Mariner senior steps up as leader, record breaker
Late Friday, Jan. 12, Jason Blood was hurrying to finish packing the car for a fishing trip with his brother, Kyle, on Goldeneye Lake near Finland.
They were trying to get out of town for the trout opener Saturday and were running a little late, which was probably Jason's fault. The Silver Bay senior had a basketball game against Cook County, but what really caused the delay was all of the hoopla surrounding the game.
Jason had just broken the Luke Thun's school record for career points with 1,516. His 20 points in a 48-31 victory over the Vikings secured his title as the new record holder.
Breaking the record was all fine and good, but Jason was ready to head north. Those trout weren't going to catch themselves, after all.
Jason has been a member of the Mariners varsity basketball team since he was an eighth-grader. He's also been an avid angler and hunter for most of his life, but he sees many similarities between the disciplines.
"It's all just a big puzzle," he said. "You look at lakes and how they are similar to each other. You catch fish on certain structures, kind of like in basketball, where certain things work on certain teams. It really is just a big puzzle — you're just always trying to get better at it."
Over his career as a basketball player, Jason's game has grown, both literally and figuratively, as he has become one of the Mariners' most versatile and dependable players.
"When I first got him we used him as our point (guard) and now it has evolved," said Silver Bay coach and Jason's uncle, Terry Blood. "He's a bigger kid and now we use him at both. We use him outside and inside. He's one of the only players we have that plays all five roles on the floor."
In addition to guarding the smaller and quicker players, Coach Blood can assign him the other team's biggest and strongest players too. Jason leads the Mariners in five statistical categories, including, for the first time in his career, rebounding.
"He's very similar in the hunting and fishing world as he is on the basketball floor," Coach Blood said. "He doesn't get too excited and he stays pretty calm in any situation. It only changes when he gets really mad, and when he gets really mad, he plays extremely well."
Coach Blood described his nephew as relentless and that he always has an extra gear to shift into when the Mariners need him. He has also evolved into Silver Bay's floor general, speaking to referees for explanations of close calls and typically facing off against the opponents' best player.
While he is still a ferocious competitor, Jason said early in his career he would let his emotions get the best of him, to the detriment of his game.
"I think it is important to not lose your cool," he said. "Once you lose your cool, you are playing with complete emotion and you can't think and you get taken over by your emotions. I remember when I was a freshman or sophomore that I would lose my temper, but I just got older and figured out that I needed to be a leader."
Coach Blood attributes Jason's additional control to "just growing up," but he recognizes the importance it has had to the Mariners team. A few weeks ago, Jason was sick unable to play against Floodwood — a 54-47 loss — but Coach Blood believes it will go better with his nephew in the lineup.
"We played without him one night and the wheels about fell off the wagon," he said. "We get them again on Tuesday night and we can't wait."
Silver Bay plays at Moose Lake-Willow River on Friday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m. The Mariners host Floodwood at the same time Tuesday, Jan. 23.