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Warriors Athlete of Week: Senior forward energizes Warriors

Katy Johnson Sport: Basketball Position: Forward Year: Senior Age: 18 Height: 5-11 Career highlight: Extending Alexandria to five games in 2014 volleyball season Other sports: Volleyball, track & field Grade-point average: 3.76 Favorite class...

Brainerd’s Katy Johnson dribbles the ball up the court against St. Cloud Apollo. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)
Brainerd’s Katy Johnson dribbles the ball up the court against St. Cloud Apollo. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Katy Johnson

Sport: Basketball

Position: Forward

Year: Senior

Age: 18

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Height: 5-11

Career highlight: Extending Alexandria to five games in 2014 volleyball season

Other sports: Volleyball, track & field

Grade-point average: 3.76

Favorite class: Math

Favorite food: Steak, potatoes

Favorite movie: "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days"

Favorite TV show: "Bachelorette"

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Favorite website: "Instagram"

Hobbies: Drawing, sports, traveling

Future plans: Attend University of North Dakota or Minnesota-Duluth, possibly major in a medical field, possibly compete in track

Favorite basketball player: Lindsay Whalen

Parents: Michelle and Kevin Johnson

As Brainerd head coach Troy Nelson indicates, as Katy Johnson goes, so go the Warriors.

"Fair or not a lot of times we play how Katy plays," he said. "When she plays really well and has great energy we as a team tend to play well and have great energy."

In the last week, Johnson and the Warriors have been bundles of energy. They rattled off four straight wins, the first time since the 2009-10 season Brainerd has won four in a row. The streak has catapulted Brainerd into third place in the Central Lakes Conference (5-1), a game behind Alexandria (6-0) and Sartell (6-2).

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Before Saturday's 1-point loss to Buffalo, the Warriors were over .500 for the first time since Jan. 7, 2011.

Johnson attributes the streak to better passing and rebounding and the team's ability to handle the opposition's pressure defense.

"Our passing definitely has gotten a lot better than the beginning of the season," Johnson said, "and we've been outrebounding most teams. Rebounding is one of my strengths. And we have a wide range of 3-point shooters, which is good, but I think the biggest (reason) is passing. We're passing really well. We're getting the ball inside really well.

"We've been getting through the press break well. At the beginning of the season we struggled. The last few games it really hasn't been a problem getting through the press break. It's been pretty easy."

In four games last week, Johnson totaled 53 points: (17, 16, 9, 11) for a 13.25 average for the week. She accumulated 36 rebounds: (6,14, 6, 10) for an average of 9.0 a game. She added four assists, three blocks, five steals and five deflections.

She has become the team's leading rebounder (99 rebounds, 8.3 rpg) and second-leading scorer (141 points, 11.8 ppg) with 11 assists, six blocks, nine steals and 11 deflections.

Included in her stats were two double-doubles - 16 points and 14 rebounds against Bemidji, 11 points and 10 rebounds against Buffalo.

"I've been playing with a lot of energy, putting pressure on the ball and causing a lot of turnovers, and the rest of the team is doing well, too," Johnson said.

Nelson attributes Johnson's success to working on her game in the offseason and the Warriors have done a better job of putting her in positions to succeed and she's capitalizing.

"We're running a little bit different offense that gets her the ball in different spots," Nelson said. "What she really does well is she gets to the rim, drives to the basket. That's her best offensive quality and she's doing a wonderful job of that.

"Her outside shot has improved a ton. She's improved her shooting percent by 14 percent from last year and her 3-point from 23 to 36 percent this year. She's so much more confident, which has led to her success."

Katy and her dad, Kevin, frequented the gym last summer.

"About every other day we went to Riverside (Elementary) and mostly shot free throws," she said, "and we shot around what we call the umbrella. I would shoot about 50 free throws, 25 threes, driving on the baseline, driving left and right, working on my reverse dribble."

At 5-foot-11, Johnson's length is a strength when crashing the boards.

"It kind of comes naturally," she said of rebounding. "My vertical has increased over the years. ... My jumping is what gets me up there and grabbing rebounds."

She's averaging 2.5 more rebounds per game than last year.

"Her length and athleticism help her to rebound," Nelson said. "She's been doing a great job attacking the defensive boards. When she gets that rebound she has the skills to get us started in our transition game by passing the ball up court or dribbling it up herself.

"She's also very solid on the defensive end. She ends up having to guard posts a lot and does a good job of it.

"She's also very capable of guarding other teams wings. We play small a lot with her being a 4. Her athleticism allows us to do that."

Other notable efforts:

• Matt Majerle & Peder Smith, swimming, each won two events and were on two winning relays vs. Apollo.

• David Supinski, swimming, won two events and was on a winning relay vs. Sartell.

• Noah Baker, Nordic skiing, won the boys race at the Detroit Lakes Invite.

• Kylee Heurung, girls basketball, scored 25 points vs. Apollo.

• Andy Schlosser, wrestling, won the 120-pound title at the Elk River Invite.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

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