Christensen Sets Bar High for Ashland’s Boys Hoop Squad

Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

Jason Christensen has some admirable goals as Ashland’s basketball team gets ready to open the 2017-18 season after a campaign last year that produced only three victories.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior captain, who averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds last year, is eager to elevate the Clockers to at least a .500 record and a return to tournament action. “It all starts by improving in practice,’’ he said. “Once we improve there, then our record will get better. Qualifying for the tourney is realistic because we’ve got a solid core group that displayed a good work ethic during summer league games and captains’ practices.’’
As for individual objectives, Christensen, who’s a National Honor Society student, is focused on sharpening his leadership ability and also the subtle statistics that win games. “I want to improve as a leader, and that means improving my confidence,’’ Christensen emphasized. “Getting more assists, steals, blocks and deflections will help my overall game, and I’d like to at least match my points and rebound totals of last year.’’
The Clockers once again will be an undersized contingent and Christensen is a vivid example — at 6-2 he plays power forward and center. But, he firmly believes the Clockers can offset being small by honing other areas of their game. “We’ll be in good shape,’’ he said. “That’s one way to make up for being undersized. To be successful, we’ll have to rely on an up-tempo style and outrun our opponents.’’
Ashland coach Isaiah Davis, who’s in his second year at the helm, is bullish on Christensen. “Jason is strong, his footwork is good and he’s solid in transition,’’ Davis noted. “He’s got a good short jumper, and his moves in the post are very good. He gets position for rebounds, and his instincts are excellent.’’
Christensen, who played linebacker and wide receiver in football, has a variety of strengths and utilizes them when he’s playing center, a position he prefers. “I can jump, box out and get into position for rebounds,’’ he said. “I may be undersized, but I strive to outrun my opponents. I’ve worked to develop quickness, good post moves and to sharpen my hoop IQ. But, I can definitely improve my ball-handling, dribbling and ball-security.’’
Christensen is a big fan of his coach and some players who likely will form the Clockers’ nucleus.
“Coach Davis is a motivator who stresses the importance to overcome adversity and grind through your problems,’’ Christensen said. “Players like point guard Trevor Deperon, off-guard Jason Arms, forward Kevin Russell and quick forward Andre Agostinelli will all contribute this year. Trevor is gritty, can drive hard and finish. Jason can shoot threes and runs the court well, while Kevin is a good offensive player who can handle the ball. Andre is a solid finisher who can also shoot.’’
Christensen no doubt is hoping Ashland can pull off its share of upsets this year, much like it did last season against powerhouse Medfield. “That rates as my favorite game,’’ he noted. “We were 1-5, and they were at the top of the standings. But, we battled, hit some key free throws at the end and won, 69-65. I had a decent game, getting 16 points, 12 rebounds and converting two free throws in the final quarter.’’
Rating his selection as a captain “a thrill,’’ Christensen vows to lead by example, be vocal when needed and be ready to help younger players when they may want advice. “I’ve been playing in the program since I was in elementary school,’’ Christensen said. “I’m glad to have the responsibility of being a captain.’’
Relying on a competitive philosophy of reaching one’s potential and having fun in a team atmosphere, Christensen believes winning is the by-product of those situations. He also is acutely aware of the valuable life lessons that athletics teach.
“Coach Davis stresses that you have to grind through adversity,’’ Christensen said. “Sports also teach you to work as a team and become a leader. With practice, homework, and games always in my routine, I’ve learned to manage my time effectively. That’s a key lesson to learn.’’
Christensen, who plans on majoring in financial management in college, is leaning towards attending Bentley College. Also in the mix are UMass-Amherst, Bryant and UConn. Playing basketball at Bentley is a possibility but as he says: “If an opportunity presented itself at a Division 3 school, I’d consider that.’’
Christensen’s coach is a firm believer that his center can play college basketball. “Jason is a hard-worker, he’s unsung, and he knows his strengths,’’ Davis said. “He can play Division 3 ball.’’
One thing’s for sure — Christensen can play in the Tri Valley League and his determination, dedication and devotion to the task at hand make him a special competitor.