Toft sets scoring record
Scott Kramer credits Nolan Toft for helping to rebuild the Nevis boys basketball program.
Over the last three years, the Tigers have shown steady improvement, going from a 7-20 record in 2006-07 to a 13-15 record in 2007-09 to a 14-12 record last season.
So far this season, the Tigers are 9-2 with losses to Red Lake and Sebeka. Red Lake is 8-3 while Sebeka has a 10-1 record following Saturday night's 62-48 win over the Tigers.
Not only has Toft helped turn the Tigers' fortunes around, he became Nevis' all-time leading scorer at Sebeka Saturday night. Toft finished with 20 points for 2,053 in his career to break Gretta Hjelseth's old mark of 2,033 points.
"Nolan has been a pleasure to coach. He is that kid who shows up to practice ready to work and wants to do anything he can to help this team win," said Nevis head coach Scott Kramer. "It has been a little bit unfortunate for him to play at a time when our program has been going through somewhat of a rebuilding phase, but Nolan has always had a great attitude and hopefully his hard work will pay off this season."
Toft saw plenty of playing time as an eighth grader and ended the season with 101 points. As a freshman, Toft scored 538 points and followed with 613 points as a sophomore and 605 points as a junior.
So far this season, Toft is averaging 17.8 points a game as the Tigers are 4-1 in Northland Conference play.
Toft tied Hjelseth's school record with 11 points in Nevis' 47-40 conference win over Pine River-Backus Thursday night. Dylan Stenberg also scored 11 points, Mitch Rehkamp had eight rebounds and Hunter Schroeder had seven steals in that win.
Jordan Ackerman had 13 points for PR-B, which fell to 3-4 in the conference and 4-6 overall.
"This was a trap game of sorts for us. With a big game (against Red Lake last Tuesday) and probably an even bigger game (against Sebeka on Saturday), our focus was to not forget about Pine River," said Kramer. "Our defense was again the difference. We survived the game, but really struggled on offense."
Toft became the Tigers' all-time leading scorer on Saturday, but a slow start cost Nevis a chance to defeat Sebeka, which built a 30-13 lead at the half and held on.
Toft and Rehkamp had eight rebounds each while Schroeder chipped in 10 points, five rebounds and two steals. Stenberg led the Tigers with five assists.
"It was a tale of two halves for us. We came out flat and didn't shoot the ball well. Sebeka did a nice job defensively, but we just didn't hit the open shots," said Kramer. "We played better in the second half, but couldn't make the final push we needed. In the moral victory department, I thought we played a very competitive second half."
Now that Toft has reached the last of his personal goals, Kramer is looking for the senior to help Nevis reach some more of the team's goals.
"There are not many high school players in the 2,000 point category. All the credit goes to Nolan for all the work that he has put in and how dedicated he has been," said Kramer. "Nolan has been a major reason for our success this year, not just in terms of any statistics, but just in terms of motivating his teammates to always work harder and put the time in. Nolan will obviously be a major factor in how far the team goes this season. As we continue to improve, we hope to close the gap by tournament time. But whatever the outcome, Nolan's high school career will be a very special one."
PINE RIVER-BACKUS: Ackerman 13, Howard 10, Woelfel 8, Holm 5, Wynn 2, Kline 2.
NEVIS: Toft 11, Stenberg 11, Chase 8, Rehkamp 8, Schroeder 8, Anglin 1.
Halftime: Nevis 21, PR-B 20. Three-point field goals: Howard 1, Holm 1, Toft 1, Chase 1, Schroeder 1. Rebounds: Nevis (Rehkamp 8, Chase 5, Stenberg 5). Assists: Nevis (Stenberg 2, Toft 2, Rehkamp 2). Steals: Nevis (Schroeder 7, Chase 2).