Kelly Pearson could always produce copious amounts of points.
The Staples-Motley Cardinals junior just didn’t have to.
The three-year varsity player led the Cardinals in scoring last season with 340 points (11.3 per game). She added 90 rebounds, 75 assists and 78 steals to a team that advanced to the Section 6-2A final.
This season, however, Pearson was surrounded by shooters. But on Feb. 17 one of those other shooters — Jasmine McGillvray — went down with an injury.
“I asked some of the other girls who have been playing a while to step up their game with Jasmine going down,” said Cardinals head coach Arden Beachy. “We are such an unselfish team and whoever is hot on a certain night always seems to get the most shots. Well, Jasmine was the hottest scorer this season so we got her the ball the most. Well we were minus one of our scorers so other people had to step up and Kelly had the ability to do that.”
In the Cardinals’ 81-38 blowout of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle March 1, Pearson exploded for 28 points. She followed that with 22 points in the Cardinals’ 51-34 subsection semifinal victory over Melrose March 3.
“I guess I was just trying to fill (Jasmine’s) spot and trying to keep our points going,” said Pearson. “I tried to score the ball a little bit more than I have just to pick up the slack.
“My shot has been pretty good lately. I just found my stroke the past few games. I couldn’t really shoot before. I think I found it now.”
Pearson led the Cardinals with 13 points in their North Subsection 6-2A championship loss to Sauk Centre March 6. She helped S-M to a 23-5 final record.
“She’s very athletic and can do a lot of different things,” said Beachy. “She can use her left hand and her right hand equally. She’s a good ballhandler. She’s real shifty the way she sets defenders up and that allows her to turn the corner on a lot of people. She’s always been a good shooter able to go into a jump shot off the dribble.”
Pearson had to adjust to a new defensive position. The former guarder of guards has been asked to play more of a post defender position. She said it wasn’t that hard of an adjustment, but Beachy said she’s improved greatly since the start of the season. He’s seen a lot of improvement from Pearson and the rest of the team this season.
“She has matured a lot,” Beachy said. “Before she would be worrying about calls that weren’t right. This year I haven’t seen any of that. She’s been able to keep an even keel. Whether she’s making shots or if they aren’t falling you can’t tell the difference. If the calls are going against us she stays the same. That’s really helped boost her play and her ability to stay focused on the game.”
Other notable performances:
Basketball: Tatum Sheley, Pine River-Backus, scored 29 points against Onamia and 32 against Ogilvie.
Lindsay Monson, Pierz, finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds against Albany.
Chelsey Bonsante, Crosby-Ironton, scored 22 points against Roseau and 23 against Pequot Lakes.
Mattie Lueck, Pequot Lakes, scored 19 points against Crookston and 27 against Crosby-Ironton.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.