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Area Male Athlete: PR-B's Ackerman leader in more ways than one

Nick Ackerman leads the Pine River-Backus Tigers in most statistical categories, but it's his leadership qualities that are the most important. That's what Tigers head boys basketball coach John Riewer believes. "The best things I see in Nick are...

Nick Ackerman
Nick Ackerman

 

Nick Ackerman leads the Pine River-Backus Tigers in most statistical categories, but it's his leadership qualities that are the most important.

That's what Tigers head boys basketball coach John Riewer believes.

"The best things I see in Nick are his work ethic and his leadership," Riewer said. "He's vocal and has grown up in that regard and he leads by example. He leads our team in almost every category. Pretty much Nick leads us in all categories.

"I've coached a lot of kids over the years, but I consider Nick one of the best leaders I've ever had the opportunity to coach.

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"He's a good student on and off the court. He's well respected among the community and among his classmates."

He's also pretty good at basketball and he displayed that in a 65-59 victory over Blackduck Jan. 9 as he posted 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven steals. He followed that with 10 points in a 61-53 win over Menahga Jan. 11 and dropped 22 points on Red Lake a night later.

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Nick Ackerman

  • Year: Senior
  • School: Pine River-Backus
  • Sport: Basketball
  • Position: Guard
  • Highlights: Finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists against Blackduck and scored 22 points against Red Lake

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"He gets his points both through our offense and by breaking his opponent down," Riewer said. "I really consider Nick a team player. Nick, through the framework of the offense and his ability as an athlete, can get his points."

On the season, Ackerman has 257 points for a 19.8 points-per-game average. He's averaging 8.4 rebounds. 2.5 steals and 4.5 assists per game. He's shooting 46 percent from the field, 39 percent from 3-point and 80 percent from the line. He leads the team in every category except blocked shots.

"He's our best defender, too," Riewer said. "He's usually guarding one of the best players on the other team. If we had a little more depth then we would play a little more man-to-man defense than we do. We do change defenses a lot and if we are playing man-to-man than Nick is guarding the other team's leading scorer.

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"His heart and his desire are what make him so good defensively."

Ackerman has an interesting mindset when on defense.

"When I'm playing man defense, I think I'm guarding my brother," Ackerman said. "I've played my brother a lot in one-on-one. He's quicker than me. He's faster than me and you have get low and have to think whichever way he's going, I'm going to get there first. That's helped me a ton on playing good defense."

Last season, Ackerman earned All-Northland Conference honors as he averaged 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals a game. He shot 49 percent from the field and 72 percent from the line.

He said his goal is to help PR-B get past the first round of the playoffs. And while the Tigers are 6-7, there are signs the Tigers are headed in the right direction.

"At the beginning of the year, we were a young team and we still are, but now we're learning to play together," Ackerman said. "We're living up to our potential a little bit. We still have a lot left to gain, but we're creeping toward that end."

One reason is Ackerman's leadership ability. He said being from a small school it's important for someone to take on that role and he embraces it.

Riewer believes running cross country has helped Ackerman's mental focus and ability to lead.

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"What's impressive about Nick is if you wanted him to play football, he probably would have been our starting quarterback, but he chose to run cross country and he's run cross country all the way through," Riewer said. "I just think it makes you more mentally tough when you run cross country. I have an admiration for people who are distance runners because it is not easy.

"Even though I'm the girls cross country coach, I've been with Nick every fall and all winter for the last four years. Because of that relationship I have with him I'm hard on him at halftime. What impresses me is he just says, 'Yes, sir and nods his head.'"

 

Other notable performances:

Basketball: DJ Haasken, Aitkin, scored 22 points against Moose Lake-Willow River.

Josh Doss, Pillager, finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and eight steals against Sebeka.

Jonathan Jacobson, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds against Staples-Motley.

Griffin Webster, Staples-Motley, finished with 25 points against Crosby-Ironton.

Joe Alholm, Little Falls, scored 29 points against Milaca.

Brady Raph, Pine River-Backus, finished with 21 points against Menahga.

Owen Korfe, Verndale, finished with 25 points against New York Mills.

Nordic skiing: Hunter Zupko, Little Falls, won the Detroit Lakes Invite in 24:36.9

Wrestling: Spencer Miller and Owen Bjerga, Staples-Motley, won individual titles at the Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale/Parkers Prairie Invite.

Devin Dean, Holt Truax and Craig Orlando, BHVPP, won individual titles at the BHVPP Invite.

Nate Williams, Crosby-Ironton, won an individual title at the BHVPP Invite.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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