Area Female Athlete: C-I's Nelson dishing out confidence to young team
Jami Nelson is a point guard trapped in a center's body. The Crosby-Ironton Rangers basketball player grew up hoping to be the next Lindsay Whalen. Instead she grew into a 6-foot-1 post player for the Rangers. She said she still thinks about runn...
Jami Nelson is a point guard trapped in a center's body.
The Crosby-Ironton Rangers basketball player grew up hoping to be the next Lindsay Whalen. Instead she grew into a 6-foot-1 post player for the Rangers. She said she still thinks about running the offense.
"I think when I was young I always played with the mentality of a point guard," said Nelson. "I always wanted to be Lindsay Whalen. I just grew and they put me at the post. I really like handling the ball, though."
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- Year: Junior
- School: Crosby-Ironton
- Sport: Basketball
- Position: forward
- Highlights: Finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, eight blocks and four assists against Detroit Lakes
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Another attribute Nelson has, and her first-year head coach Sue Peterson will agree, is range. While the majority of her points come close the basket, if asked, Nelson believes she can step out and drop a few from long range.
"We have some options in our offense that give her an initial look, but it's not a special play just for her," said Peterson. "We do know when the game is tight that the ball will end up in Jami's hands at some point. She's a very complete player. She has a soft touch around the basket and she has shooting range around the perimeter, too. We like her inside just because of her body position and she really excels in the post area, but she's a very complete player."
The junior filled her stat sheet with 22 points, 11 rebounds, eight blocked shots, four assists and two steals in the Rangers' 56-51 victory over Detroit Lakes Jan. 13.
She scored 12 points in a loss to Pequot Lakes Jan. 6 and posted a game-high 24 points in a 52-45 win over Aitkin helping C-I to a 5-1 record in its last six games.
"I think, as a team, our confidence goes down when we play bigger schools, so I have to step it up and be more confident for them to be more confident," Nelson said. "Then it just spans out to everyone else and we start believing more.
"I've been trying to improve everyone's attitude and being a leader in practice and in the locker room and stuff talking about what we need to do better."
As a sophomore, Nelson was named to the Brainerd Dispatch All-Area Team as she finished with 392 points (15.1 per game), 240 rebounds (9.2), 37 assists (1.4), 31 steals (1.2) and 21 blocked shots. She shot 50.5 percent from the field and 65 percent from the line.
This season, Nelson struggled to stay on the court because of foul trouble. A change in positioning has helped the varsity veteran stay on the floor.
"As a younger player, I've always been pretty good about not getting into foul trouble, but I don't know what's gotten into me this year," Nelson said. "I owe a lot to (former head coach Randy Swanhorst). He really taught me a lot about that. Just this year, with having different coaching styles, I think I just got into more foul trouble."
Nelson needs to be on the court for the Rangers to be successful. Through the team's first nine games, she led C-I with 120 points and 78 rebounds.
"She's a determined competitor," Peterson said. "She has great court vision and even though people focus on her scoring ability, she's a really formidable defensive player.
"She's gotten so much stronger defensively in the paint and she's getting into correct position.
Nelson said her goals for the season were to finish with a winning record, score her 1,000th career point, adapt to a new coaching style and help the team get into a routine to prepare for next year. She admitted the adjustment to a new coach took her and the team time.
"It was definitely tough at first getting used to a new coach and stuff, but we got a lot of help from our community and parents and stuff," Nelson said. "They just told us that it was going to get better and that we had to work for it.
"I think we all just came together and made it worth our while. We had a team meeting about it and kind of came together as a team and decided to really step it up and turn things around."
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Shania Glenz, Verndale, finished with 15 points, including a key 3-pointer, and 12 rebounds against Henning.
Claire Wolhowe, Staples-Motley, scored 23 points against Park Rapids.
Grace Imdieke, Lake Region, tallied 42 points and 24 rebounds in two games at the St. Francis tournament to earn all-tournament recognition.
Hockey: Sam Gutzman, Northern Lakes, scored two goals against Rosemount.