Three Huskies earn all-conference; Nicholson All-State, Player of Year

Marlys Good

Capping the 2020-21 basketball season was the release of the 1A all-conference and all-state basketball teams at the conclusion of the state tournament in Casper.

Three Lady Huskies, Jessie Michaels, Victoria Nelson and Kelsi Nicholson, were selected to the all-conference team. The three talented players were joined by Maren Baker of Dubois, Abigale May, Samantha May and Delanie Salzman of Meeteetse, and Payton Casteel, Lindsey Holiday and Elizabeth Lundgren of Ten Sleep.

Nicholson was named the conference player of the year and Coach Cheryl Haslam was honored by her peers as the Northwest Conference coach of the year.

Nicholson, in addition to all-conference and player of the year honors, was named to the elite all-state team in 1A. The sophomore was joined by Kylee Teichert, Emmie Barnes and Rylee Teichert of Cokeville, Brenlee Logan of Farson, Amy Campbell of Hanna-Elk Mountain, Tinley Pierson of Kaycee, Whitney Bennett of Saratoga, Kealy Carson and Brenna Herring of Southeast, Lindsey Holiday of Ten Sleep, and Kaitlyn Louderback and Alyson Louderback of Upton.

Coach Haslam said Nicholson “works hard all year, in and out of basketball season. Looking at 1A stats throughout the state, Haslam said Kelso was No. 1 in scoring, averaging 18 points per game, No. 2 in steals, No. 5 in blocks and No. 7 in rebounds even though she missed several weeks during the season due to sickness. “She stepped up and took on more of a leadership role this year,” Haslam said. “That is hard to do at her age. She is a great all-around player, who scores well on offense, but also works hard on defense. She is quick and gets several steals on the outside. I am very proud of her and can’t wait to see her growth in the next couple of years.“

Nelson, also a sophomore, steadily improved all season. Perhaps her biggest area of growth was in the “mental game. She struggled to keep her head in the game when things didn’t go her way,” Haslam noted, “but really pulled out of this and became an example to the team of pushing through. She spoke up a lot in practice and games on working as a team and keeping their heads in the game. When her mental game came together, she was a huge asset on the court.” She came on and was the high scorer for the Huskies when they played Cokeville for the regional championship. A great rebounder, Victoria ended the season as No. 4 in blocks, which, according to her coach, “she loves to do She had her timing just right to block players on layups.”

Michaels, just a freshman, “snuck up on a lot of teams in our conference. An outstanding player, she was No 4 in scoring, No. 5 in free throw percentage, and No. 9 in 3-point percentage. “Jessie has a great shot; her form is exceptional and something she works on continuously. When she had games where she struggled scoring, she picked it up on the defensive end. Defense became her goal at the end of the year. She really worked hard and became a strong defensive player. She is going to be a force throughout the next three years.”

The Huskies will lose four seniors, who were great contributors to the team: Cheri Henderson, Liberty Bassett, Vivian Neves and Melissa Bullinger. Henderson, Bassett and Neves were starters all season and Bullinger, who played a lot of JV, proved to be a strong defensive player when she moved to varsity. “She is really quick and go so much better at anticipating passes. She did whatever we asked her to do. This was her best year in both scoring and rebounding.”

Henderson worked all year to improve her shot, with a goal of becoming a threat on offense; and she became a pretty good shooter. She was one that I could count on for defense.”

Bassett was another hard worker who pushed herself to improve. Haslam explained that Liberty has issues with her eyes, with limited sight in one. “Despite these struggles she worked hard and compensated for the areas where she couldn’t use her sight. She became more confident inside at the post and scored points there.”

Neves is another Husky who gained confidence this year. “This was her best year for both scoring and rebounding. She worked hard on both offense and defense and did whatever she was asked to do.”