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Agates' leading rebounder built his goal

Two Harbors junior Carson Wenger lines up a free throw during the Agates Feb. 12 game against Silver Bay. (News-Chronicle photo by Jamey Malcomb)

Over the summer, Two Harbors junior Carson Wenger was a little frustrated with his basketball game.

Well, not really his game, but his portable goal that sits in his backyard wasn't level. Improving one's shooting on a lopsided goal is a dicey prospect at best. The entire goal "wobbles," according to Carson. His plan was to use the summer to play American Legion baseball and improve his shooting and overall game.

So Carson did what any kid with a part-time job at a hardware store would do: He bought a few boards and took some bags of concrete leftover from one of his parents' home improvement projects to make a small, level slab for him to practice on in his backyard.

"He shoots from the alley, but the backboard on the portable hoop was in the yard so we made a form and poured a small slab to put his hoop on to make it level for him," Jeff Wenger, Carson's father, said. "He took it upon himself to do this construction project so he could just shoot more around the house."

It wasn't a simple process, however. Carson first spent about three days digging and leveling the spot and then hand-mixed concrete with his father to pour into the form he built.

"I had to dig it out first to level it out a bit," Carson said. "Then I poured gravel into it so it had drainage or whatever and then I had to put the boards up as high as the alley road so it was level as it was poured."

Carson didn't get much playing time as a sophomore, but this season he's grown into Two Harbors' second-leading scorer behind teammate and junior Jayden Ruberg, who he started playing basketball with as a fifth-grader. Carson's range has increased and has several 20-point games, including a 27-point performance against Cook County.

This season, Carson averages a little over 12 points a game and is the team's leading rebounder. What's more, he has become adept at drawing charges from opposing players. Carson has instigated a charge call 15 times this season; the rest of the Two Harbors squad has just 10 combined. Coach Bill Anderson said when Carson showed up for summer practice, it was evident he had put in some work.

"I think we saw it as coaches this summer," Anderson said. "He showed some glimpses last year and we thought he might show some improvement going into this year, but it's been leaps and bounds. He's got a ways to go yet, but he's stronger; he's worked on his inside game and it has really come a long way."

While Carson's shooting work has paid off, it's a year-round effort that has really led to the improvement. Typically up by 5:30 a.m., Carson starts his day with a workout at either the Two Harbors High School weight room or at Bodies in Balance in Two Harbors and following a day of class, he heads on to practice and usually doesn't get home until at least 7 p.m., or 10 p.m. if he has a game. On the weekends, he works at Seagren's Hardware Store, and during the summer, in addition to playing baseball, he also coaches Little League and volunteers in Two Harbors.

"He's never home wasting time watching TV," Jeff said. "He's always out doing something. A truck comes into the food shelf or fairgrounds and out he goes. He's super self-sufficient; he makes his breakfast, his dinner — he's an adult, as far as I'm concerned. I don't even worry about him for one second. He's just such a great kid."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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