Area Female Athlete: C-I's Peterson dishing out success
Lily Peterson might be her own worst critic.
The Crosby-Ironton Rangers sophomore point guard possesses the basketball intelligence to know what her weaknesses are and the will to turn those weaknesses into assets.
Case in point, Peterson said her defense was lacking last year. So she did something about it.
"It really started in AAU and I realized that my defense was probably one of the weaker parts of my game," Peterson said. "Sometimes I would give up on mid, on-ball defense. I really worked on quickening my footsteps and just constantly playing hard and not giving up. That really transitioned me through AAU ball and into the season. It's really helped me to get more deflections and more steals. "
This season, Peterson is second on the Rangers in steals. She's also leading the team in 3-point, free throw and field goal shooting percentages. She's averaging 14.5 points a game, but more importantly to the Rangers' success, she's leading the team in assists.
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- Year: Sophomore
- School: Crosby-Ironton
- Sport: Basketball
- Position: Point guard
- Highlights: Finished with 21 points, six assists and six rebounds against Wadena-Deer Creek.
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But Peterson admits, it helps when you have so many scoring threats surrounding her.
"Hands down," Peterson said. "As a point guard, if all the pressure is on you to score or to make plays than it's not really a team game. With our team, I really like how there are so many girls I can dish it off to and it gets us a lot of scoring in games and it's also hard for teams to defend us because there are so many girls we can look to."
In C-I's last four games—one loss and three wins—four different players led the Rangers in scoring. In a 71-69 loss to Royalton Jan. 8, Tori Decent scored 22 points to lead C-I. Peterson added 17 points. The Rangers beat Staples-Motley 71-44 Jan. 10 with Karli Nixon and Shyanne Loiland each scoring 17 points to lead C-I. Peterson added 12 points.
It was Peterson's 21 points, six assists and six rebounds that led the Rangers to a 57-33 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek and in a 51-46 Tuesday, Jan. 15, win over Detroit Lakes, it was Nixon again leading with 19. Peterson added eight points.
"She does move the ball around really well," Rangers head coach and Lily's mother Sue Peterson said. "She sees the court well. She's doing a good job of distributing the ball and seeing the open girl. She's being a good playmaker in that respect.
"She just takes what the defense gives her. It might be a drive. It might be an outside shot or a pull-up jumper. She's a very capable decision maker and has a variety of attacks she can use. She can create her own shot. She has the ability to create her own shot through space and shifting the defense."
Peterson said she tailors her game to that of former University of Minnesota Gopher Rachel Banham. The current Connecticut Sun guard is also shorter at 5-foot-9, which fits into Peterson's mold.
Sue Peterson said she trusts her daughter's decision-making on the court and that's because of her high basketball IQ.
"My mom coached my sister when I was young and I was just a 3-, 4-, 5-year-old going to all the practices," Lily Peterson said. "I was constantly working on my game and also watching all the older girls. I'd go to all the basketball games and watching it on television is one of my favorite pastimes. I really learned a lot by just watching high school basketball all the way up to professional NBA and WNBA. I'm constantly soaking in more stuff to help my game."
As a freshman, Peterson posted 396 points (14.1 points per game), 104 rebounds, 102 assists, 79 steals and four blocked shots. She shot 37.7 percent from the field, 36.5 percent from 3-point and 70.1 percent from the line.
Her free throw percentage put her in the top 10 of the area, but she's a Knights of Columbus State International Free Throw champion.
"I did it first when I was 12 and I made it through all the stages up to the state one, which is the farthest you can go," Peterson said. "I got second place and then when I was 13, I went through and won the state in an overtime shootout. I beat the girl who defeated me the year before.
"So then they send in all of those scores and internationally, I think there were 6,000 scores of 13-year-old girls that were entered in and mine ended up being the highest so I got the national title with a nice, cool glass trophy."
So how is she during the game? Of course, being your own worst critic means there is room for improvement.
"I need to work on shooting free throws when I'm tired. If I'm just practicing them and shooting a bunch in a row, I'm going to hit them. It's a lot different in the game when you're tired and you're sweaty. It's something I need to work on."
Other notable performances
Basketball: Tori Decent, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 22 points against Royalton.
Lydia Neubert, Lake Region, finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds against Rosemount.
Tabatha Allen, Staples-Motley, finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds against Crosby-Ironton.
McKenna MacDonald, Aitkin, finished with 21 points against Mesabi East.
Gymnastics: Maddie Dehn, Little Falls, won the all-around against Paynesville.