In rivalry games, players step up in big ways to defeat their most hated opponent.
Crosby-Ironton’s Lily Peterson is no different. Her 23 points against rival Aitkin paced the Rangers to a 77-33 victory Friday, Dec. 6.
“We talked about this game being a rivalry game and you want to play well against your rival,” C-I head coach Peter Vukelich said. “(Peterson) had been in a little slump, but in a big rivalry game like that, I know she wanted to shine. Just seeing that first one go through, she got in a little bit of a groove.”
The win especially felt good because C-I was coming off a loss to Esko earlier in the week.
“We really came together as a team and played pretty well,” Peterson said of the Aitkin game. “We had to bounce back from the Esko game. We were just focused on running out, pushing the ball, pressing and playing together which I thought we did well.”
Peterson averages a little over 12 points a game and is the main ball handler for the Rangers’ offense. Against the Gobblers, it was the pressing defense that resulted in easy layups for her to rack up the points quickly. She capped off her first half by hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The second half was more of the same. She finished the night with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. She also tallied six rebounds and three assists.
“Second half just kept things going, moving the ball and hitting open shots,” Peterson said. “I’ve been the point guard on this team for a couple of years now, so I definitely have some experience under my belt.
“I hope I am a player my teammates can look up too and hopefully trust to help get the ball to where it needs to be -- to get easy scoring opportunities.”
Peterson’s favorite spot to shoot the ball from is the top of the key. She also loves to be on the wing with an open lane to the basket. From the wing, she said she can be more creative on what to do to beat the defense.
To improve on her game, she stays after practice to get extra shots off to be more comfortable and prepared for game-like situations.
“She is one of our hardest workers,” Vukelich said. “She will stay after practice every day and get thirty or forty more shots up. She had a cold start to the season, but shooters got to shoot out of their slump and she continued to do that.”
Peterson also looks to add more moves in her repertoire when she stays after practice.
“I’m also working on developing a good pull-up jumper,” Peterson said. “Hopefully I can start using that to keep defenses honest.”
Peterson mentioned she loves passing the ball almost as much as she loves shooting. She is at her best when she is pushing the tempo and creating scoring opportunities whether for herself or others.
Getting to the foul line is something Vukelich said Petesron does well at.
“She’s got a high basketball IQ,” Vukelich said. “She takes smart shots and doesn’t force anything which helps her as a scorer as well.”
The Aitkin game was a good litmus test for how Peterson wants her team to play the rest of the way. She felt they used all their strengths against the Gobblers and it helped them pull out a win.
Peterson plays AAU basketball in the spring and summer. Vukelich thinks playing all that basketball helps his guard not lose confidence in her shot and gives her an ability to get out of slumps.
“She is one of the most dangerous shooters in the area,” Vukelich said. “Her resiliency of just keep shooting and not letting a cold streak keep her from getting the ball up is impressive.”
Highlights: Finished with 23 points, six rebounds and three assists in a win over Aitkin