Tag Archives: Grace Nelson

Watch her go: Altamont freshman Grace Nelson Scoring in bunches

Altamont freshman Grace Allen

Look up on the basketball court, and much of the gym sees just one side of Altamont freshman Grace Nelson:

Her back.

Nelson, the 2019 IESA state champion in the 100-meter hurdles and long jump, and a medal-winner in the 4×100 relay and 400-meter dash, was a member of Altamont’s 1A team title as a seventh grader.

This season, she’s off and running, using her pace and speed for the Altamont Indians to score 151 points over her first four games, including two 40-plus scoring outings. 

Stepping onto the varsity floor at home against Neoga in her varsity debut, she recorded a 40-point, 6-rebound game. Since, she has racked up totals of 34, 36 and 41, in that order.

Provided photo of Grace Nelson

“I would describe myself as an aggressive player, fast, just get it and go,” Nelson said. 

That’s not to say she doesn’t score in a number of other ways. She has an improving three-point stroke, honed from time spent with her Indiana Elite Havoc travel club. And she has begun to work well with teammates coming off screens and moving within Altamont’s productive transition offense. 

“I’m comfortable because they all know I can get to the basket and score,” Nelson said. “So they see an open opportunity for me down low, they’ll get me the pass. Playing together so long we’ve got good team chemistry.”

Excelling in a small town (Altamont’s population is approximately 2,300), Nelson hasn’t exactly taken local squads by surprise, as her excellence in youth basketball has been well-documented. Just weeks into her high-school career, she’s living up to the hype — reaching scoring marks most varsity stars will never achieve. 

“This is my 15th year as head varsity coach, and I have to say, coaching junior high, JV and on, she’s one of the most complete (players) that I’ve seen,” Altamont coach Katie Lurkins said. “Not just that I’ve coached, but I’ve seen in the area.”

Lurkins went so far as to say that Nelson’s success brought to mind that of former Mount Carmel and Indiana University great Tyra Buss.

“She has big goals,” Lurkins said. “The upside is I really think it’s the knowledge and the belief that she can do it. Some people had some question marks and some speculation about whether she was going to be the big deal at (this) level. I think her coming out at this level is going to push her.”

Nelson has been complemented thus far by talented teammates like fellow guard Brooke Runge, a senior and Parkland College signee. 

“I think we work pretty together pretty good and we’re a fast team so we transition a lot and get a lot of our points on transition layups,” Nelson said. 

Nelson said it was a shock to cross the 40-point threshold in her first game. Since then, however, she has come into a steady comfort on the floor each time out for now 3-1 Altamont, leading to her being awarded Illinois-Basketball.com’s first Girls Player of the Week distinction.

Nelson’s stats through four games: 37.8 points, 6 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 2 assists per game. She’s shooting 37.5 percent from three (9-of-24), 58.5 percent from the field (55-of-94) and 82.1% from the free throw line (32-of-39). She’s creating scoring chances for her team with prolific consistency, often by turning deflections into transition points.

“I’m pretty comfortable,” Nelson said. “I can finish most of my drives, finish strong and up with contact.”

Finding that continued success is something that Lurkins is confident Nelson will strive for. A combination of Nelson’s school pride, doing small things and her commitment to watching game film are all reasons Lurkins sees Nelson’s game only continuing to grow.

“She puts the ball cage away … she takes the laundry basket on and off the bus,” Lurkins said.

Getting good grades and being involved in non-basketball activities are just a few of the ways Lurkins said Nelson is a balanced kid. 

“As much success as she’s had on the court, she understands it’s her success and her team success is equally important,” Lurkins said. “This start gives her the encouragement and the energy to continue to push forward and push for those personal and team goals.”

Illinois High School Basketball Top Performers: February 1-8

Over the weekend, Illinois-Basketball.com sent emails out to the vast majority of coaches in the state of Illinois looking for the some of the top performances from players in the state.

An email was sent to every coach with an email listed on the IHSA website. Any emails omitted can be pointed out to the writer at kalebcarter4256@gmail.com to be added to our database. More than twice as many boys coaches responded as girls coaches.

Week 1 Players of the Week:

Offensive efforts stood out in the form of herculean displays by Altamont freshman Grace Nelson and Ridgewood’s Ganon Greenman. They are your inaugural Players of the Week.

Illinois Girls Player of the Week Nominees

  • POTW: Grace Nelson, Altamont (1A): 40 points, 6 rebounds as a freshman in her first varsity game, a 68-65 loss to Neoga; 34 points, 6 rebounds in a 69-51 win over Farina South Central; 36 points, 9 steals in a 77-55 win over St. Teresa.
  • Alyssa Crenshaw, Dundee-Crown (4A): 30 points, 20 rebounds in 54-53 win over South Elgin, including last two put-back buckets to end the game.
  • Taylor Charles, Burlington Central (3A): 20 points, 18 rebounds in her Rockets debut (previously played at Montini), a 63-60 win over Batavia.
  • Sarah Finley, Buffalo Tri-City/Sangamon Valley (2A): 30 points, 6 blocks, 4 rebounds in Feb. 6 56-50 win over Williamsville.
  • Germayia Wallace, Alton (4A): 16 points, 7 rebounds against Collinsville.
  • Kim Stuerke, Buffalo Grove, (4A): 25 points, seven 3-pointers, 8 rebounds, 3 assists in OT loss Rolling Meadows.
  • Emily Galvan, Rolling Meadows (4A) 32 points, five 3-pointers, 5 rebounds, 4 assists in overtime win or Buffalo Grove.
  • Tessa Towers, Batavia (4A): 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks.
  • Claire Hyde, Wheaton North (4A): 17 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals against Naperville Central.
  • Sophie Swanson, Barrington (4): 21 points, in 18 minutes of play, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals in 55-33 in over Schaumburg.
  • Whitney Zumbahlen, Newton (2A): 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists in 40-24 win over Dieterich on Feb. 5; 25 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks in 61-49 win over Vandalia on Feb. 6.

Illinois Boys Player of the Week Nominees

  • POTW: Ganon Greenman, Ridgewood (3A): School-record 51 points in win over West Central; 37 in win over Kewanee.
  • Niko Powe, Kewanee (2A): 34 points, 3 assists and 4 of 4 on 3-point shooting in game against Ridgewood.
  • Xavier Gagnepain, Sycamore (3A): 33 points, 10 rebounds in loss to Rock Falls on Feb. 5; 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals in win over Genoa-Kingston on Feb. 6.
  • Sean Gallery, Maine South (4A): 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists in 47-36 win over Loyola; 12 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds in 64-46 win over Deerfield. Marko Anderson also posted a stat line of 24 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in the win over Deerfield.
  • Erik Rimas, Vernon Hills (3A): 29 points, 9 rebounds, six 3-pointers made in 81-60 loss to Evanston. Rimas is a football recruit with an FCS offer from the likes of Eastern Illinois to play tight end or lineman.
  • Aiden Whitlock, Eldorado (2A): 21 points, 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 4 assists, 2 blocks against West Frankfort.
  • Jaden Schutt, Yorkville Christian (1A): 23 points, 10 rebounds, 2 dunks in win over Sandwich.
  • JT Welch, Bloomington Central Catholic (2A): 28 points, 10 assists in 73-70 loss at Rock Island Feb. 6; 24 points in 64-61 loss to Moline.
  • Kaleb Applebey, Mount Carmel (2A): 31 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, in 2-point loss to Mt. Vernon.
  • Ethan Roberts, Hersey (4A): 20.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 assists through two games.
  • Cam Russell, Indian Creek (1A): 25 points in win over Hinckley-Big Rock; 18 in win over Genoa-Kingston and shot 75% combined over the two games.
  • Andrew Marincic, Elmwood (1A): 31 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists against Lewistown Feb. 5.
  • Gabe Calhoun, Dunlap (2A): 25 points, 11 rebounds, 8 steals, 4 assists in 67-61 win over Peoria Christian.
  • Daniel Duncan, Peoria Christian (1A): 30 points in 67-62 loss to Illinois Valley.
  • Conor Enright, Lake Forest (3A): 28 points in 71-60 win over Mundelein.
  • Luke Braman, Roanoke-Benson (1A): 29 points in win over Midland Feb. 5.
  • Max Christie, Rolling Meadows (4A): 24 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocks in 68-63 win over Buffalo Grove
  • John Poulakidas, Neuqua Valley (4A): 28 points in 65-53 win over Timothy Christian.
  • Zach Cleveland, Normal (4A): 13 points, 20 rebounds 9 assists, 4 blocks in win over Bloomington Central Catholic
  • Darius Clemons, Stevenson (4A): 24 points, 14 rebounds in 63-59 win over Streamwood.
  • Mason Accidentale, Plano (3A): Combined 45 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 9 three-pointers made in two games.