John Holder is small in stature but big in value.
As a 5-foot-10 point guard for the Aitkin Gobblers boys' basketball team, Holder led the team with 438 points (17.5 per game), 72 steals and 81 assists. He added 104 rebounds and eight blocked shots, while shooting 43 percent from the field and 73.5 percent from the foul line.
The senior continues to inflict damage on the baseball diamond this spring.
He shut down the East Central Eagles May 3 for a 10-0 complete-game victory. He allowed just one hit and no walks. He struck out six and faced just one batter over the minimum.
At the Eveleth-Gilbert tournament May 7, Holder struck out 11, walked two and gave up four hits in a 7-5 victory over Two Harbors.
Against E-G, the team captain was 2-for-4 to help Aitkin to a 5-4 win.
"This year he has been mixing up his pitches," said Aitkin coach Brian Sandberg. "He has a nice high school fastball and he throws a curveball to get batters off balance. He'll get a guy down 0-2 or 0-1, then he'll play with the batter with a pitch and then throw the curveball. People know it's coming but they still can't hit it."
While Holder isn't a big athlete, his endurance allows him to get stronger as the game goes on. Sandberg said against Two Harbors that Holder was pitching his best in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
But Holder's best asset on the mound is control of his pitches and understanding situations. His control was the key to both victories last week.
"He was able to pitch the pitches he wanted to," Sandberg said. "He had good control and good location. Against East Central he only faced 16 batters."
Holder's season record is 4-1 with 40 strikeouts and 23 hits allowed. His lone defeat was a 7-2 loss to Rush City Wednesday despite 11 strikeouts.
The three-year varsity starter has proven his worth at the plate as well. He hits No. 2 in the Gobblers' lineup and is hitting .263 with two triples, two doubles, one home run and seven RBI.
"He sprays it around the field," said Sandberg. "He uses all of the field. He can take the curveball from a left-hander and hit it to left field or he can pull a fastball to right field. He's using all of the field and doing a good job of moving our leadoff hitter around."
When he's not pitching, Holder plays shortstop. Against E-G, he made a play that impressed even the umpire.
"It was a hit into deep short, he got the ball and on his knees he threw to first base and got the runner out," Sandberg said. "I couldn't believe he made it and either could the ump.
"He does make the plays. He knows the game. He's head and shoulders above other kids when it comes to knowing what to do and what to expect. He's very quick and he anticipates well. He reads the pitcher, he reads the batter and goes in the right direction."
Other notable performances:
Baseball -- Jordan Wohlwend, Wadena-Deer Creek, struck out 13 to win game one, then went 3-for-3 with four RBI in game two against Staples-Motley.
Isaac Johnson, Verndale, struck out 16 in a three-hit complete game and hit a two-run double and scored twice against New York Mills. He hit two home runs with three runs and four RBI against Brandon-Evansville.
Kyle Dykhoff, W-DC, was 5-for-6 with three RBI and two runs in two games against Crosby-Ironton.
Josh Flavin, Little Falls, was 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBI against Monticello and 2-for-3 with one RBI against Sauk Rapids.
Golf -- Cory Wilson, S-M, shot 2-under-par 34 for medalist honors in a Mid-Minnesota Conference meet at Park Rapids.
Robert Bell, Pierz, shot 36 for medalist honors in a Central Minnesota Conference meet at Howard Lake.
Matt Ruis, Pillager, was medalist with a 43 in a Quad County Conference meet at Henning.
Jesse Helbling, Aitkin, was medalist with a 38 in a Great River Conference meet at Finlayson.
Track and field -- Cody Gravdahl, Pequot Lakes, won the 200- and 400-meter dashes and the high jump at the TDS Telecom Invitational.
Teddy Lundgren, Pequot Lakes, set a school record in the triple jump and won the long jump at the TDS Telecom Invitational.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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