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Female Area Athlete of the Week: Peterson transforms into post player for Huskies

Pillager senior is area athlete of the week

Olivia Peterson
Olivia Peterson

Olivia Peterson changed positions for her senior year.

The Pillager girls’ basketball player moved to an inside presence for the Huskies and it worked out for both her and the team.

Peterson finished the season averaging more than 16 points a game.

“This year, I’ve just had to step up more when our shots aren’t going in,” Peterson said. “I just try to make it difficult for the defense to guard me down low. If they come to double team, I can get my guards open shots.”

She finished the season with 16 points against Swanville, 17 against Menahga and 22 against Moose Lake-Willow River.

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In the Huskies Section 7-2A playoff game Thursday, March 3, she led Pillager with 22 points in a 53-49 loss to Mesabi East.

“She’s had a nice season for us this season,” Pillager head coach and Olivia’s father Dave Peterson said. “It’s kind of been a big change for her this season from kind of playing on the perimeter to moving her inside. It’s been really effective for us and she has been really scoring for us. We try to get it in there to her and if the other team doubles she’s able to dish it outside and create for our shooters.”

The biggest improvement to Olivia Peterson’s game has been the willingness to shoot more in her senior season.

“I just felt that to win this year I had to score more than I did last year,” she said. “When we need a basket, we run a play that makes me make a post move.”

As a junior, she averaged around nine points a game.

“She had a nice year last year and the biggest thing was last year we had a post player in Sadie Hopman and Olivia hardly got the ball inside,” Dave Peterson said. “It took awhile for Olivia to accept her role because she likes to shoot the outside 3 and likes to drive, but as the year went on she realized our team did better when she got the ball down low and she figured out she could score down there. Her teammates have done a great job of getting her the ball down low and we work a lot on it.”

Olivia’s versatility as a post player made her an effective offensive weapon.

“We can run pretty much any offense because she can pop out and make a 3-pointer,” Dave Peterson said. “She can drive, which is one of the skills she did a lot in the other years playing. So her versatility is very good. She’s a busy girl for us in the game and does a little bit of everything for us.”

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Dave Peterson said it can be challenging coaching his daughter.

“Sometimes you are a little harder on her and at times you know she can handle it so you try to message the whole team through her which isn’t always fair,” he said. “I think the nice part about coaching her is she has a really good understanding of basketball and what we are doing. If you change a strategy in the game she figures out right away what’s going on. The thing that is really nice about her is she was always a team player and happy for her teammates when they do well.”

Olivia Peterson added: “He’s pretty hard on me, but it’s nice to have someone want to push me that hard. If not, I don’t think I would have that much desire to score.”

Next year, Olivia Peterson plans to attend North Dakota State University and major in biology.

Other notable performances:

Basketball: Maci Martini, Pequot Lakes, scored 23 points against Park Rapids.

Addison Lorber, Staples-Motley, scored 25 points against Aitkin.

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Tori Oehrlein, Crosby-Ironton, scored 47 points against Staples-Motley.

Katie Leidenfrost, Pierz, scored 20 points against Zimmerman.

Kiara Olesch, Pierz, scored 20 points against Zimmerman.

Ramsey Tulenchik, Pine River-Backus, scored 37 points against Browerville/Eagle Valley.

Olivia Peterson
Year: Senior
School: Pillager
Sport: Basketball
Highlights: She scored 22 points against Moose Lake-Willow River

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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