Balanced Game: It's what Zack Craig plays

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

He’s the big guy on the team, the one who naturally comes up with the most rebounds and blocks.

But he’s also the leader in scoring and he has the best free throw and three-point shooting percentages. On top of that, he finished with a strong second place in assists and he tallies the most steals.

Zack Craig plays a balanced game of basketball. He’s everywhere and he does it all.

His four year’s on Morenci’s varsity team culminated last week with a selection to the first team Class C all-state squad.

Four years ago, Morenci coach Jim Bauer brought the lanky freshman to the varsity team without much hesitation.

As a general rule, he said, there are three factors to consider when moving a younger player to the varsity. Is he going to play more than half the time? Is he going to help the team? Is he going to help himself?

“The answer was ‘yes’ to all three,” Bauer said.

That first year Craig played behind Aaron McClue, the Bulldogs’ most recent all-state player until last week. McClue played underneath and Craig started popping in three-pointers from the outside. He scored 17 points in his first game.

“If there were any doubts,” Bauer said, “that certainly showed that he belonged.”

That was the beginning and he progressively improved each year, Bauer said, not just physically but in how he handled himself on the floor.

“Zack really learned how to adapt in games,” he said. “He gave the team whatever the team needed, whether it was scoring or passing. He always made such an impact on the team one way or another.”

In his junior year, he really started to make everybody on the team better, Bauer said. The Bulldogs ended with a 43-6 record in Craig’s final two seasons.

“Not many players can put up the well-rounded numbers that Zack did,” Bauer said. “The most amazing to me is his 50 percent shooting from three-point range. That’s uncanny.”

Craig scored in the 200-point range as a freshman, then beyond 300 points as a sophomore and 400 as a junior. Finally, he reached 548 in his senior season and ended at 1,606.

“He had his hand in a lot of points, whether it came from him or someone else,” Bauer said, “and that’s just the offensive side.”

He had a team-leading 36 steals this season, along with 66 blocks and an average of 10 rebounds a game.

The moral of the story? You get what you deserve, says Bauer.

“There are probably not many kids in Lenawee County who put up as many shots as him. He’s getting rewarded now for the time he invested.”

For Craig, he still thinks about low points of his career. The loss in this year’s regional finals still stings.

“I can only remember the bad things,” he said.

However, there was a dunk or two that can bring back a smile, and he can easily come up with his favorite moment. It happened this season, when classmate Jed Hall scored his first three-pointer and the assist came from Craig.

Hall was working his way back into the lineup after suffering two broken legs and other injuries in an automobile accident last summer.

“Austin [Wolf] was driving and I’m pointing to Jed,” Craig remembers. “Austin passed to me and I got it to Jed.”

“Zack and Jed played so much together, it was like they could read each other’s mind,” Bauer said.

Craig made a college visit earlier this week to check out a program that has his interest and there are others to consider.

Coach Bauer hopes his star’s prowess on the court will lead to a free-ride at some school.

But before college practice begins, there’s some other athletic activity to attend to: baseball.

Yes, there was a time when Zack Craig did something besides shoot hoops and he’s heading back to the baseball diamond this spring.

Just one more facet of the well-balanced athlete. 

    – March 28, 2007
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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