DIETERICH -- For a lot of students, summer is a time of sweet relaxation. The inescapable stresses of algebra homework and the late night hours spent studying for tomorrow's test are tossed out the window, instead replaced by days spent lounging at the pool and sleeping well into the afternoon.
That's assuming you're not Dalton Hinterscher, of course, because his summer of 2012 was entirely different. Hinterscher spent the early morning hours at the gym, working time and again to improve his game for the senior season that lay ahead.
The hard work paid off, as the determined guard scored 25.7 points per game and led the Movin' Maroons to a 22-9 record and NTC tournament title.
Now he can go ahead and add the Effingham Daily News Player of the Year Award to that list.
"I'm just happy that I did everything to get to this point," Hinterscher said. "All the sleepless nights and early mornings to get here, it's finally all paid off."
Coming off a junior season in which Hinterscher earned EDN All-Area honors after scoring more than 16 points an outing, he went to work adding more to his game than a silky-smooth jumper.
"When he was a sophomore and junior on varsity, he game was more of a spot-up shooter," Maroons coach Jeff Staser said. "Guys were penetrating for him and kicking the ball out to him. His revelation was, if I'm going to be able to do what I want to do my senior year, I'm going to have to be able to take the ball to the hole, elevate and shoot."
"I think where he improved the most from last year to this, something that he will agree with, was ball handling," Jamie VanScyoc said, Hinterscher's coach the previous three seasons. "Being able to go left or right was something that he struggled with from freshman to junior year."
So after classes ended in June, Hinterscher hit the gym. While others were out enjoying the sweet summer air, or catching some extra hours in bed, Dieterich's focused leader was putting in added time on the hardwood.
"It would be waking up at 7:30 a.m. every morning, eating breakfast and going to school at eight," Hinterscher said. "Working out for the first hour, hour and (a) half, then ball handling and shooting after that for an hour and a half. So it was anywhere from two and three hours every day during the summer, six days a week."
This wasn't light training, either. Hinterscher did more than just casually strut around the 3-point arc effortlessly flicking balls through the net. He was driven, engaged each time he stepped on the court.
"Some kids will go the gym and just say they shot for an hour and a half," Staser said. "His is a more intense training, he's making moves, he's got sweat pouring off of him. That's the thing that's going to separate the average guys who go in and are good shooters. With his intensity he brought, that's the part of the game that you don't see."
What Dieterich fans did see in the gymnasium this winter on game days was a transformation. Hinterscher was virtually unstoppable on offense, seamlessly converting his practice into the flow of the game. When teams slouched off, he buried 3-pointers with a 41 percent efficiency. If they tried to take away his lethal touch from outside, he drove hard to the lane, shooting a 53 percent clip from the field.
Hinterscher topped 1,000 points for his career during the season and scored 796 points this year alone, a Movin' Maroon record."The practice takes you to where you want to go," Hinterscher said. Perhaps equally as impressive as his nightly assault of the rim was the senior's ability to never be labeled as a selfish scorer. Hinterscher led the Maroons in assists as well, dishing out 3.5 dimes per outing.
"When we began the season everyone's focus was, 'Let's watch Dalton and see what happens,'" Staser said. "As the season progressed, he was able to bring in the other kids and get them involved in the game."
"Whenever I wasn't open I tried to get the other guys open and spread out the attack," Hinterscher added.
The teamwork suited the Maroons well, as Staser's squad added an NTC championship to the school's trophy case, their first since joining the NTC in 2009, with a 68-54 victory over Altamont. Even though everyone in the gym knew what was coming that night, Hinterscher still dissected the Indians' defense to the tune of 29 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
"It's always good to say that you could be the first to do it," Hinterscher said about the NTC feat. "Only that certain group of guys are going to be the ones that can ever say that."
Hinterscher's basketball career may have come to an untimely end when Dieterich lost to Oblong in its regional final on Feb. 23, but his efforts this season won't soon be forgotten. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
"People in general always put a ceiling on everything they do, they always put limitations on themselves," Staser said. "With what Dalton has been able to accomplish this year, we've got something to show kids. If you're willing to do what it takes, the sky is the limit. You can have success. For me as a coach, being able to use him as a standard, it makes my job a lot easier."
When asked what Hinterscher will leave behind in the community, VanScyoc didn't hesitate with his reponse.
"It's a legacy," he said. "He's continuing to lay the foundation that we've built, continuing to pave the road to success. His work ethic, dedication and drive, I just can't say enough about how he's been."
Basketball may be gone, but Hinterscher will carry this innate leadership with him to his next venture in life, one that will likely be around a computer screen.
"I want to be a computer engineer," Hinterscher said. "I'm not sure where yet, but basketball is done. Ever since I was little I've loved computers, I've messed with them. It's been with me forever."
His coaches believe that he will design apps for iPhones, but Hinterscher insists his passion is in the hardware and processing. In any case, Staser knows that Hinterscher will go above and beyond what it takes to be successful.
"One of the things that we picked up on this year, that we used quite a bit, he took and went with it to a tee," Staser said. "It's that the extra mile is never crowded, and Dalton has decided the extra mile is where he wants to be."
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com