Warriors Athlete of Week: Nelson’s offense key in big Warrior win

Brainerd Warriors Myah Nelson key to Warriors offense

Brainerd Warrior Myah Nelson brings the ball down the court Friday, Jan. 15, against Bemidji at Brainerd High School. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Myah Nelson said it’s a hard balancing act every time she has the basketball in her hands.

In the Brainerd Warriors’ biggest game of the season to date, however, Nelson displayed her offensive diversity in leading the girls’ basketball team to a 53-52 victory over the Willmar Cardinals Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The Cardinals were previously unbeaten in the Central Lakes Conference, while the Warriors are sitting fifth in the conference standings. That didn’t stop Nelson from going for 20 points on 50% shooting. She added three rebounds, five assists and two steals. She tallied one deflection as Brainerd held the Cardinals to 28.8% shooting.

BIG WIN: Girls Basketball: Warriors knock off conference leading Willmar
“It was a big game and so we knew we had to come out with a lot of energy,” Nelson said. “They were playing man so I could drive and I was able to find my open teammates and push the ball up the court.”

In the Warriors’ 58-50 loss to Willmar two days later, Nelson added nine points, a rebound, two assists and two steals.


She leads the team with 40 assists (3.6 per game) and 27 steals (2.5) and is tied for the team-lead with 14 deflections. She’s averaging 11.4 points per game or 125 total for second on the team and her 46 rebounds ranked her third on the squad.

She’s shooting 36.7% from the field, which includes 32.7% from 3-point. She’s hitting 76.9% of her free throws.

“One thing that we’ve noticed is she is on everybody’s radar this year,” Warrior head coach and Myah’s father Troy Nelson said. “She’s seeing a lot of chasing and teams shifting defenses toward her. She’s done a really good job of recognizing that and instead of forcing that she’s finding her open teammates who get open because defenses are trying to take her away.”

While extra defensive attention frustrates every player, with Myah Nelson it just plays into her play-making motive as she considers herself a pass-first type point guard.

With the early graduation of Erika Lane and a season-ending injury to Olivia Tautges, the pressure to score was placed on Myah Nelson’s shoulders even more than she was planning before the start of the season.

“She’s played point guard since seventh grade and that’s one thing you ask of your point guard,” Troy Nelson said. “You tell them I want you to shoot and score when you’re open, but I want you to really look for that open teammate that has a better shot. She’s done a really good job with that. Coming into this year with those two players, who were our second- and third-leading scorers last year, coming back you figured it would open things up for everybody.


“With those two not playing, other teams have really concentrated on Myah and we’ve had other kids step up and she’s found those other players.

As a sophomore, Nelson finished with 297 points (11.0 per game), 59 rebounds (2.2), 67 assists (2.5) and 40 steals. She shot 45% from the field, 37% from 3-point and 69% from the line to earn a spot on the Brainerd Dispatch All-Area team.

She secured a spot on the honorable mention all-area team as a freshman by finishing with 200 points (7.7 per game), 71 rebounds, 59 assists and 27 steals. She shot 35.4% from the field, 29.5% from 3-point and 75.9% from the line.

“I think my biggest improvement this year has been sharing the ball, looking up the court and passing to my open teammates and just running the floor a lot more. I’m much more comfortable playing this year because I trust myself and I know what I can do. I feel more comfortable bringing the ball up the court, especially when teams are pressing and I think it also helps me lead my team because I can recognize defenses and call out the right offense to run.”

Nelson was part of a record-breaking 4x100 relay team as a freshman. She teamed with Gabbie Smith and Kayla and Brenna Deason to win the Central Lakes Conference Championship and the Section 8-2A title.

The foursome ran the second-fastest prelims time in the Class 2A state meet, but a dropped baton in the finals prevented the Warriors from breaking their own school record once again and winning a state title.

LAST GAME: Girls Basketball: Willmar avenges earlier loss to Warriors
Still, it’s Nelson’s most memorable sports achievement to date and this year, she’s brought that speed to the basketball court.

“After we get a rebound we like to push it up and I know I’m always going to have my teammates running with me so I try and pass it up to them and get down the court as fast as I can,” Myah Nelson said.


Her speed along with improved dribbling and court vision have made Myah Nelson a press-breaking asset.

“She knows what we want and so she runs our defense and runs our offense,” Troy Nelson said. “She knows exactly what she wants to get out of it and does a really good job of being unselfish and finding the open player, which is one of the main reasons she’s leading us in assists.

“She’s really worked on ball-handling and breaking the press. When we get the ball to her, typically teams can’t press us anymore. Against Willmar, they like to put pressure on and when we can get it to her typically she can break the press or find the open person down the floor.”

What Troy Nelson admires most is her ability to be coachable. He said he’s pretty hard on his own daughter.

“She handles it better than I would anticipate,” Troy Nelson said. “I am pretty hard on her. She gets the looks occasionally that I don’t give to the other players, but it’s something where she typically plays better when I’m hard on her. She’s been able to handle it since she was a little kid.

“I also think being a point guard, I’m typically harder on point guard than other positions. That’s the position that has to take care of the ball and has to get us into our offenses and has to be able to be under control and I think she’s done a really good job of that.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at


Other notable performances

  • Thomas Ruhl, swimming and diving, won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and was on two winning relays against St. Cloud Apollo and won the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke and was on two winning relays against Sauk Rapids.

  • Lily Schaeffer, Nordic skiing, won the Detroit Mountain Classic in 18:01.3.

  • Jed Klang, boys hockey, finished with 28 saves against St. Cloud.

  • Eric Pohlkamp, boys hockey, finished with two goals and an assist against St. Cloud.

  • Emma Booth, girls hockey, finished with two goals and an assist against St. Cloud.

  • Easton Dircks, wrestling, finished 4-0 last week.

  • Griffin Rushin, boys basketball, scored 19 points against Moorhead and 29 points against Alexandria.

  • Cade Rosenwald, boys swimming and diving, won the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle and was on two winning relays against Sauk Rapids.

  • Mitchell Degen, boys basketball, finished with 20 points against Alexandria.

Myah Nelson

Myah Nelson

Sport: Basketball

Position: Point Guard

Year: Junior


Age: 16

Height: 5-foot-8

Career highlight: Competing in Class 2A state track and field meet as part of school-record breaking 4x100 relay

Other sports: Volleyball and track and field

Grade-point average: 3.98

Favorite class: Math

Favorite food: Ice cream

Favorite movie: “Marley & Me”


Favorite TV show: “The Big Bang Theory”

Favorite website or app: Snapchat

Favorite restaurant: Boulder Tap House

Future plans: Attend college

Favorite athlete: Maya Moore

Parents: Troy and Angie Nelson

Myah Nelson

Myah Nelson

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