Posted On: 04/5/18 10:00 AM
Sioux Valley guard Max Nielson may only be a sophomore, but his experience is well beyond his years.
He had the game-winning scoop shot against Flandreau to advance to the Round of 16 this past season. The Cossacks eventually would make state and place fourth at state, none would have been possible without the clutch layup from Nielson. Even though they only won one game at state Nielson said it was a very successful season.
“It was a great year of teamwork and exciting times,” Nielson said. “We may have been a little short of our goal, but it was a great year for Sioux Valley basketball. Even with me being younger, we’ve played together for a long time and we thought we could win a state championship. We stuck together as a team and had some great moments.”
The Cossacks got off to a rough start losing to Class B Clark/Willow Lake but took that as motivation to get better and prove they weren’t the same team. They sure proved everyone that game was a poor showing of how Sioux Valley basketball is played.
“The early season loss to Clark/Willow wasn’t the way we wanted to play, and that motivated is to get a lot better over the season so we could play late in March.”
He credits having some tremendous teammates the last couples of years in Collin Kramer, Tayt Vincent, Trevor Hanson and Trevor Olson, all 1,000 point scorers for the Cossacks, in his success and maturity thus far.
“I’ve been lucky to play with four 1,000 point scorers for Sioux Valley,” Nielson said. “So you get to learn a ton from those guys. We pushed each other to get to the gym all the time. Having those types of guys in the gym justs creates a bond on the court that pushes us all to get better all the time.”
In his sophomore season for the Cossacks, he averaged just under 10 points a game at a near 49 percent clip from the field. Nielson also led the team in assists with eight a game, and on the defensive side posed a threat with his quick hands getting around 2 steals a game. He said being confident out on the court really helped him with his game.
“As the year progressed, I attacked the lane more to make more opportunities for myself and my teammates,” Nielson said. “I believe my defense improved throughout the season as I had to guard older and more physical guards. I tried to help the team by looking for my shot more as the season went on because when you have guys like Hanson and Olson they are going to draw attention so it was up to the rest us to step up when needed.”
Nielson and fellow Sophomore Ryan Schuster are the only starters returning next year, which means more of a bigger role for both players. Nielson knows that and plans to work extra hard for the next two years to try to bring home a state title to Volga.
“Next year, I intend to have a larger scoring mentality,” Nielson said. “Being a threat from all three levels is something I intend on bringing to our team next year. With Ryan Schuster and I being the only returning starters, we each know teams will focus in on us, and we have to be ready for whatever is thrown at us.”
He will have plenty of time to improve his game this summer as he will be playing with the 16u South Dakota Attack team. That team has the likes of Jack Cartwright (SF O’Gorman), Matthew Mors (Yankton), and fellow teammate Ryan Schuster. They have one player from Iowa, but the rest is from SD.
“This summer, I will continue to play with the SD Attack,” Nielson said. “We’ve been really competitive and have added some great new pieces that will make us that much better. With Ryan Schuster joining us this year, it will give us an even better chance to develop our games together moving into the high school season. Other than Ryan we add Josh Arlt and Alex Van Kalsbeek from Iowa.”
Even though he is only a sophomore this past season, Nielson has already been contacted by several area schools and is excited for what the next two years will bring.
“I’ve had a number of Divison II and NAIA schools talk to me, and I look forward to what the next two years bring.” Nielson said.