ORCS’ Olson garners national attention

The volleyball season ended two months ago, but Our Redeemer’s Christian School freshman Morgan Olson is still racking up accolades. She may have another award to her trophy stash soon, too.

Olson is one of 25 finalists for the 2013 PrepVolleyball.com National High School Freshman of the Year award. The 5-foot-8 outside hitter/setter made the cut from more than 200 candidates. The winner will be announced Jan. 31.

“I was super excited and super honored and truly humbled,” Olson said. “It was a big deal for me.”

Olson’s nomination started when ORCS volleyball coach Kara Nunziato was forwarded an email about the website’s year-end national award. She submitted Olson’s season and career stats and a short bio to John Tawa, a writer for the website. Nunziato was informed Olson was a finalist last week.

“When looking at this most recent season, she took on a whole new role and led in kills and had highs in assists, aces and digs,” Nunziato said. “She definitely is one that stands out. No one stands out quite like Morgan in that she has so many assists and kills.”

According to PrepVolleyball.com, the requirements for consideration were such that the nominated freshman “had to make a massive impact on her varsity high school team” and must “be a varsity starter and have stats that were among the team’s best.” While not required, participating in a state tournament or being nationally ranked improved a candidate’s chances.

Olson recorded 418 kills, 380 digs, 307 assists and 59 aces this season and was instrumental in the Knights’ third-place finish at the Region 6 tournament. ORCS finished 30-12-2 in what was considered a rebuilding year. For her three-year varsity career, Olson has amassed 1,316 assists, 980 digs, 554 kills and 179 aces. She’s played in 378 sets and ORCS is 97-32-3 since she joined the team.

Her play on the court has led to several awards. Olson was named all-District 12, all-region and was the only underclassman to earn all-state honors last season. She was also an all-district selection in 2012.

Although the Knights did not appear in the state tournament this year, they did qualify in 2012 – just the second time in program history. ORCS placed fifth after winning its final two matches.

Nunziato, the first-year ORCS coach, described Olson as “an athlete that is truly unlike any other.”

“She’s very hard-working,” Nunziato said. “If she doesn’t have a skill, she’ll work on it until she has it perfected. She’s so intelligent. She is the most intelligent and most natural athlete our coaching staff has ever seen. You see strategies you don’t usually see from a freshman.”

Olson’s competition is stiff, as one would expect for a national award. Fellow candidates include athletes from 15 other states. Both Olson and Nunziato have their fingers crossed that the freshman’s name is called on January’s final day.

“That would be amazing,” Olson said. “I would be so stoked and so excited for my future.”

Said Nunziato: “It would be an unbelievable thing. It would be an honor and a privilege. Morgan being accepted on the all-state team was unbelievable and getting an award at the national level would be mind-blowing.”

Holte breaks DL-B scoring record

Des Lacs-Burlington senior Tanner Holte needed just two points against Garrison on Tuesday to break the school’s career scoring record.

The 6-foot-4 forward netted 35 points in a 87-73 win to set the new scoring mark. Holte broke the 11-year record set by Steven Holen, the current superintendent at Watford City. Holen amassed 1,657 points and averaged 31.9 points per game his senior season. That year, DL-B finished state runner-up to Central Valley.

“We’ve seen it coming for a little while now,” DL-B coach Doug Wagner said. “We were pleased it could happen at home. It’s quite a record that he broke.”

There was little doubt that Holte would break the record as he had scored in double figures in each game this season entering Tuesday’s contest. He’s scored at least 20 points in six games this year and recorded 39 against Surrey on Jan. 9. Holte’s lowest output was 10 points in a 57-56 victory over then-No. 2 Four Winds-Minnewaukan on Dec. 21.

“He was just a solid basketball player early,” Wagner said. “He started his freshman year and was a good scorer. To break records like that you do need consistency and he’s been able to do that. He’s increased his scoring average every year.”

Holte is averaging more than 22 points per game for the Lakers, who sport the top offense in Class B at 81.9 points per contest. Holte can extend his school record as DL-B has three remaining regular season games, followed by the District 12 and Region 6 tournaments, and perhaps the state tournament as well.

Holte’s impact is felt more than just on how many points he scores. Wagner said Holte doesn’t need to score to be a threat. His size in the middle forces double and triple teams, which allows senior guards Chris Duke and Cole Edwards to knock down open shots from the perimeter.

The Lakers (12-1 overall, 3-0 district) are currently in a three-way tie atop the district standings with Berthold and Our Redeemer’s Christian School. DL-B hosts Bishop Ryan tonight at 7:15.

Packineau fills

up stat sheet

Parshall girls basketball forward Cheyenne Packineau had a weekend to remember.

Packineau recorded a total of 71 points in a pair of victories over the weekend. The 6-foot-2 junior scored a season-high 42 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 78-39 win against White Shield on Friday. Packineau followed up that performance with a 29-point game against Trenton the following night.

Her 42-point performance was the second-highest mark this season in Class B girls basketball. Only Lakota-Edmore’s Fallyn Freije has recorded more points in a game – a 45-point showing against top-ranked Bishop Ryan.

Packineau added 26 points and 11 rebounds in a 92-37 victory against North Shore on Tuesday.

Packineau is a big reason for Parshall’s success this season. The Braves (8-1 overall, 2-0 District 15) are currently tied with New Town for first place in the district and a half-game in front of Watford City. Parshall travels to Mandaree tonight.

Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.