ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Warriors Athlete of Week: When McElfresh is on, she's on

One of the issues the Brainerd Warrior girls basketball team needed to address entering the 2017-18 season was who would replace Kylee Heurung's scoring and rebounding. Heurung graduated last spring as the highest-scoring individual in Brainerd b...

Brainerd Warrior Regan McElfresh shoots a jump shot at practice Tuesday.
Brainerd Warrior Regan McElfresh shoots a jump shot at practice Tuesday. Steve Kohls Brainerd Dispatch

 

One of the issues the Brainerd Warrior girls basketball team needed to address entering the 2017-18 season was who would replace Kylee Heurung's scoring and rebounding.

Heurung graduated last spring as the highest-scoring individual in Brainerd basketball history-girls or boys. She accumulated 1,991 points and 830 rebounds on her way to playing for Mayville State University in North Dakota this winter.

Regan McElfresh is one of several Warriors who has elevated her game in Heurung's absence. The senior shooting guard leads Brainerd in scoring with 313 points (15.7 per game). She has scored 19 points or more, with a high of 27 against Sauk Rapids, in the team's 20 games.

"Especially scoring, Regan has great touch," Warriors head coach Troy Nelson said. "She works on her shot all the time in the gym and outside of basketball practice on her own. She works on that shot all the time. When she's on, she's on."

ADVERTISEMENT

After last season, during which she scored 198 points, McElfresh decided she needed to devote more time to basketball so she tried out and made the Central Lakes Thunder, a local traveling team.

"We finished first in a huge tournament and I feel like I excelled," McElfresh said. "I started to be more confident. Doing that spring league really helped a lot.

---   ---   ---   ---   ---

Regan McElfresh

  • Sport: Basketball
  • Position: Shooting guard
  • Year: Senior
  • Age: 18
  • Height: 5-8
  • Basketball highlight: Beating Buffalo 59-56 in overtime in December
  • Other sports: Soccer, track and field
  • Grade-point average: 4.0
  • Favorite class: AP Biology
  • Favorite food: Pizza
  • Favorite TV show: "Grey's Anatomy"
  • Favorite website: SnapChat, Instagram
  • Future plans: Attend South Dakota State University, probably major in pre-med
  • Favorite teammate: Emma Grunenwald
  • Parents: John McElfresh and Lori Carlson

---   ---   ---   ---   ---

"And I practiced with my dad in the summer quite a bit. He built a gym in our house so we could shoot a lot more and it helped."

In addition to leading the team in scoring, McElfresh tops the team in deflections (45) and steals (86).

"You try to teach kids how to anticipate passes and it's really hard to do," Nelson said. "Regan has the natural ability of being able to see what's going to happen and react. She has a quick burst that she can go get that steal."

ADVERTISEMENT

McElfresh credits her time playing defense in soccer for her ability to deflect passes and collect steals.

"I used to play defense (in soccer)," she said. "That's where you kind of wait until someone messes up and try to take advantage of their weaknesses. I think that transfers to basketball. "Ever since I was little, even from fifth grade on, I was on the 'A' team because I could play defense. I could get those steals. It wasn't my offense because I just started (playing basketball) in fifth grade. It just kind of comes naturally for me I guess."

Although rebounding is not one of her main responsibilities, McElfresh has grabbed 65 boards (3.25 a game).

"With Regan knocking down open shots when she's open, she's moving a lot on offense," Nelson said. "We also look for Regan on defense to cause havoc for us. She plays the anticipator on our presses. She anticipates extremely well, which you can see with the number of deflections and steals she has on the year."

Although she's not a captain, McElfresh is a team leader.

"We told all of our seniors they're all going to bring different leadership qualities to us," Nelson said, "and Regan's doing a great job of that. She's one of the most coachable kids. She's always asking 'What can I improve on? What do you see?'

"When I take a timeout they all come in and her eyes never leave me. She's engaged. She's trying to see what we're trying to do so she can go out and do that. She's been super coachable."

Nelson believes coachability and confidence have enabled McElfresh to blossom this season.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We've talked about it with her all the time, how she wasn't super confident, especially as a sophomore," Nelson said. "She gained a little bit more confidence last year.

"Her confidence just exploded this year. You can see it in her play. When she goes out there, she's much more confident in her ability. She's willing to take those chances on defense. She knows when it's a good time to do that. She knows when it's not a good time to do that."

With six regular-season games remaining, Brainerd is 12-8 overall.

"I don't see us losing another game for a while because we're finally getting our stuff together," McElfresh said. "We did lose two times last week but it was very close."

 

Other notable efforts:

• Evan Storbakken, Andrew Wasniewski, Maxim Osborne, boys Nordic skiing, qualified for the state meet.

• Chris Karels, boys basketball, scored 25 points and had five assists vs. Rocori.

• Brooklyn Jones, gymnastics, won the uneven bars and the all-around title vs. Fergus Falls.

• Riley Andres, boys hockey, collected seven assists vs. Sauk Rapids.

• Wyatt Andres, boys hockey, had a hat trick vs. Sauk Rapids and two goals vs. Roseau.

• Jack Evans, boys hockey, had a hat trick vs. Sauk Rapids.

• Cheyenne Abear and Gabbie Smith, girls hockey, each scored two goals vs. Moorhead.

What To Read Next
The league would launch in summer 2024 and is polling interest in possible host cities.
The Brainerd Warriors Sports Boosters meet most Thursdays during the school year.
The Tuesday, Jan. 31, game between Sioux Falls Lincoln and Watertown was forced to move after junior JT Rock broke the rim with a powerful two-handed dunk. Rock is committed to play at Iowa State.
Hull was a five-time 50-goal scorer, led the NHL in goalscoring seven times, twice won the Hart Trophy and was voted a First-Team All-Star on the left wing 10 times.