Peterson: A rare kind of player

He, or she, is the kind of player you seldom see on the basketball court.

I’ve only seen a handful of them since I started watching the sport a very long time ago.

They have that uncanny sense of where to be or where not to be.

Karl Rautiola of Chassell is that kind of player.

This past Saturday afternoon, the CHS junior forward displayed all those skills when he led the Panthers to a district tournament championship.

Sure, he scored 41 of his team’s points in helping defeat a very good Dollar Bay-Tamarack City team in overtime.

But he also found the time to haul down 12 rebounds, set up his teammates for baskets and play strong defense. The real good players always seem to have the knack of making their teammates better.

The Blue Bolts double or triple-teamed him all the way, knowing that if they were to lose, it would be because of his play.

I couldn’t help but recall another player who possessed the same set of skills.

George Michaelson of John A. Doelle played in another era — the1960s when offense was given more priority than today’s game.

Like Rautiola, Michaelson could do it all. I saw his skills up close, having played two years of varsity with him.

Practicing with a player gives you a clear insight on his entire game.

He could score — he led the Upper Peninsula as a junior — and totaled 1,439 career points in just 68 games.

He was named to numerous all-star teams, just as Rautiola will be after this season. The CHS ace also passed 1,000 points in his career against Dollar Bay-TC.

They were both excellent free throw shooters (over 85 percent) and hit the clutch opportunities. Making free throws takes practice, a lot of it.

Besides coming from large families and having brothers to compete against, both of them are genuinely nice people.

You often find that star players have egos the size of Texas. That’s not the case here.

Other players who fall in the same category include Ewen-Trout Creek standout Dave Besonen and Sarah Stream of Westwood, who both went on to play at Michigan Tech. 

Michaelson chose not to play beyond high school.

Stream, whom I consider the finest female basketball player I’ve ever seen, would have excelled even more, except for injuries. That also plagued Besonen.

Every now and then, you get the chance to see players of this calibre.

But it usually comes every blue moon or so.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today