January 20, 2016

Beltz can score it

Kevin McCarthy

photo of Jimmy Beltz

There's tough and then there's Jimmy Beltz tough. Try having your nose broken during a section finals game and after a little medical work, checking back in. Not enough? How about playing next in the NorCal Tourney opener with that broken nose and five stitches in your foot? Beltz, a 6-foot-1 junior at Elliot Christian High in Lodi can take a licking and keep on playing. That and the kid can flat out shoot.

Owner of a 53 point outburst this season versus McNair High, Beltz is putting up impressive overall numbers. He averages 32.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists a contest, having doubled his output in each category from last season.

“He works hard and he's a knockdown shooter,” said Elliot Christian Coach Jason Hitt. “Also, with junior point guards Jalen Valverde and Onkar Sidu having transferred in and now eligible to play, Beltz will be able to focus less on ball distribution and more on his overall offensive game.”

When asked about his top basketball skill, Beltz offered, “my shooting. It's something I've worked on since the fourth grade. My pull-up jumper is my best asset.” This coming from someone who puts up 3,000 to 5,000 shots a week using Coach Pat Gotelli's shooting machine. Putting the ball on the ground and attacking the hoop along with individual defense are key elements Beltz continues to work on in his own time outside of mandatory practice.

About that 53 point outburst, Beltz explained, “I was in a zone, just feeling it. The hoop felt like it was an ocean, everything I threw up seemed to go in.”

In assessing his high school play up to now, Beltz said, “As a freshman, I was more a catch-and-shoot [player]. As a sophomore, David Lerma (now the starting point guard for San Joaquin Delta College) was looking for me on the court.” But this season Beltz has developed as a player having to create opportunities and work with new leaders on the floor.

The Eagles finished 22-9 last season, falling 81-67 to Brookside Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V boys basketball championship game at Sleep Train Arena. Currently they stand 5-2 with just one home game thus far and it looks like the race in the Central California Athletic Alliance will again be between these two.

Beltz plays for the Port City Basketball Academy based out of Stockton during the spring and summer, competing in top California basketball tournaments and NCAA certified events.

When asked where he gained his passion to pursuing basketball he credits two major influences, “My stepdad Harold Siler. He takes me to games, practices and camps no matter the distance, he has always provided an opportunity for me to grow and get better. And my coach Jason Hitt, he has been with me since the fourth grade. Coach Hitt has always had confidence in me, giving the green light to shoot whenever I am open. He has instilled a foundation throughout the team to work hard and perfect proper fundamentals in practice so we have confidence to make plays in games.”

However, his greatest asset is his teammates who have the daunting task of finding a way to get him open on many nights where he is face guarded or double teamed. “Without my teammates none of my shots would be possible,” said Beltz.

Despite his busy schedule, he maintains a 3.5 grade point average, understanding the importance of excellence both on and off the court. Beltz is in the best shape of his life and just a junior sporting size 15 shoes, an indicator of further physical growth to come.