Nathan Rogers knew the dull pain surging from his just-cracked right collarbone signaled the end of his football season.
What the North Montgomery senior couldn’t predict on Oct. 19 was how the broken bone would affect his upcoming basketball season. The Chargers’ returning scoring leader spent the next few weeks with his right (shooting) arm in a sling.
“You couldn’t just go 100 percent the first day,” Rogers said. “I remember the first day back I shot it about 100 times and it felt like my arm was going to fall off. It’s just getting the muscles back into it, and they’re good now.”
Are they ever. Rogers missed North Montgomery’s first two games, but debuted with a 48-point weekend and hasn’t slowed down. The 6-foot-1 wing averages an area-best 23.8 points per night entering this weekend’s games against Lebanon and West Lafayette.
“He plays everywhere for us and does everything,” North Montgomery coach Joel Grindle said. “He’s our scorer. We try to set up anything we can to get him in an advantageous position to score.”
Rogers’ believes all the left-handed dribbling he did while wearing the sling actually improved his ball-handling. Perhaps the injury helped his shot as well. He’s hitting a solid 35.5 percent from 3-point range — a 10-point jump over last season’s performance — and 76.4 percent at the free throw line.
Yet even if Rogers’ shot were off, he might still be outperforming last season’s 19.1-point average. Grindle said Rogers’ physical growth has helped him handle the extra attention paid to him by opposing defenses.
“I go up against him a lot in practice, and I’ve come up off the floor a couple of times,” said Grant Gayler, a sophomore wing and the Chargers’ second-leading scorer at 10.3 points per game. “He’s a strong kid, and that’s what’s been able to get him through the double-teams, work the ball through and get to the basket.”
Rogers said he tried to follow the example of Jake Thomas, a 2011 North Montgomery grad and a former top scorer.
Now he’s trying to make the same impression on a young Chargers team. North Montgomery is 2-10 but was in a handful of those games until the final buzzer, including a 61-54 double-overtime loss to Westfield last Saturday.
“I don’t know if they do, but I like to feel they look up to me,” Rogers said. “I try to set an example — just try to lead them in the right direction and keep a positive attitude in the locker room and practice. We’re trying to get some wins.”