COLUMBIA — Travis Jorgenson dribbled at the top of the 3-point line, preparing to pull his signature move against his Sumner High School opponent Monday night.
The Rock Bridge point guard drove to his right and then began to cross over the ball, his right hand slipping below it. He feinted with his upper body and head as if he would complete the cut to his left.
But the ball never even left his right hand. Instead of assuming control with his left, his right hand had rotated all the way around to the other side of the ball. Now he pushed it off the floor and back to his right. As his off-balance defender continued to move to the left, Jorgenson penetrated past him, drew a double team and threw a pass to the open teammate.
Then the referee blew his whistle. He decided Jorgenson had palmed the ball, an illegal move called a carry.
Jorgenson didn’t react in disbelief or even glance at the referee. He just looked up and sighed.
The call is rare in high school basketball and hard to make because, even more than other decisions, such as determining between a block and a charge, it is a judgment call.
It can also seem random to the perpetrator. After the 82-52 win over Sumner, Jorgenson, who scored 12 points for the Bruins (19-4), said he has hardly been called for a carry all season.
That is, until last week. He got whistled for it once against Jefferson City on Thursday and once more the next night against Hogan Prep.
“I have no clue,” Jorgenson said, shaking his head and breaking a small smile.
His teammates don’t mind. Some of them, such as junior guard Will Echelmeier, have played with Jorgenson long enough to get used to it.
“I’ve played with him since eighth grade, and he gets that called on him all the time,” said Echelmeier, who led Rock Bridge with 14 points against Sumner (8-15). “That’s just how he crosses over. If you watch college basketball, the NBA or even other kids in high school, they do the same thing.
“I don’t want to say he’s getting picked on, but I think it gets called on him more than anyone else.”
Nick Norton, a freshman guard who scored 13 points Monday, said Jorgenson has taught him some moves to get to the basket and break down defenses. He said that the chance of Jorgenson getting called for the violation depends solely on the referees any given night. None of his teammates ever question Jorgenson for the move.
“He’s been doing that all year,” Norton said. “It’s been working, too.”
Indeed. After the call early in the first quarter, Jorgenson scored on consecutive drives to the basket, the second going for a 3-point play. On the next two possessions, he ran a play that ended with Echelmeier hitting 3-pointers at the top of the key.
“He crosses over a million times a game, and it might get called once,” Echelmeier said. “We can give up that one possession because he does things with all the other times he crosses over.”
Rock Bridge coach Jim Scanlon doesn’t completely agree. He said that Jorgenson has to be careful and make sure he keeps his hand on top of the ball, the proper position.
“A turnover’s a turnover, and a possession is a possession,” Scanlon said. “He’s got to know how to work around it.”
One might wonder why Jorgenson, a sophomore, doesn’t just cross the ball over to his left hand before reversing it. For one thing, it’s quicker and more deceptive when performed with one hand.
It also looks pretty cool.
“It’s always fun in a big game to make a nice move and get the crowd pumped,” Jorgenson said.