Following practice on Monday, Lindsey Nurmi grabbed two basketballs to run a few extra drills.
Two days earlier, the Black Hills High School girls basketball team won its second consecutive Class 2A Southwest District title. But it wasn’t, Nurmi admits, the most impressive outing that the top-ranked Wolves have had this season.
The Wolves clashed with fourth-ranked W.F. West for the third time on Saturday night, and managed to scrap to a 36-33 win, their lowest point total of the season.
Black Hills committed 20 turnovers in that game — a season-high — while it usually averages 10.
That’s why, on Monday, Maisy Williams, Emma Duff and Natania Serhan looked to Nurmi — Black Hills’ third-year, collected point guard — for some extra help with ball-handling.
“That’s when it hit me — she’s an amazing ball-handler,” Duff said. “I see it in the press breaks. She dribbles through people.”
Black Hills has had to stare down full-court presses more often this season — being the top-ranked Class 2A team tends to make opponents turn up the pressure.
But that’s just given Nurmi more of an opportunity to shine.
“She’s really embraced the role of a point guard,” Black Hills coach Tanya Greenfield said.
Nurmi is often the unsung hero of the Black Hills offense. This season, the junior has efficiently worked to average 10 points, four assists and three steals per game.
“I’m not scoring bunches of points, but I have to be there to direct the team,” Nurmi said. “I have to bring the ball up, I have to know what play we’re (running) and what defense the other team is in. I think I play a big role.”
Duff, the area’s leading scorer (averaging 18.4 points per game) and Williams (11.3) tend to account for most of the baskets.
Black Hills (21-1) averages an impressive 62.4 points per game, but Duff said that number is largely a credit to how Nurmi runs the floor.
“I think a lot of our scoring happens because we have such a strong point guard, and we’re able to get (the ball) through the traps,” Duff said.
“Teams are always throwing presses at us, trying to stop us early, and it doesn’t work. They have to pull back because Lindsey’s just so good at her job.”
Nurmi said she’s been able to settle in to her role this season with the majority of the team still intact after last year’s sixth-place finish at the 2A state tournament in Yakima.
“Last year, we were still trying to figure out our team dynamic and what role everyone was playing,” Nurmi said.
“This year, I think since we’ve figured that out, it’s a lot easier for me to focus on my role of being a guard.”
Nurmi had more responsibility to be a scorer as a sophomore, but as dominant and consistent as Duff and Williams have been, she’s been able to focus elsewhere in her junior year.
She spent the summer working on ball-handling, and has spent more time fine-tuning how she distributes the ball.
“If I go to college, it’s going to be a guard role,” Nurmi said. “Guard roles in college are not to score, they’re to distribute for your team.”
Nurmi has fluctuated in and out of a scoring role since her freshman year, but one factor that helps define her as a point guard has remained consistent.
Before each game, the Black Hills players write down a goal on their board. Nurmi’s has been the same the past three years:
“Honestly, that happens most of the time — she has no turnovers,” Duff said. “Which is incredibly impressive for how much she has the ball.”
This season, especially, that goal has aided in Black Hills’ success. Nurmi averages two turnovers per game.
“She’s never hurting our team — ever — in games,” Duff said.
Black Hills will host seventh-ranked Archbishop Murphy (18-3) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Saint Martin’s University.
The Wolves are guaranteed a return trip to Yakima next week, and can secure a first-round bye with a win.
“I know we’re there, but it hasn’t really hit me yet,” Nurmi said. “I can’t wait to get to state and see how it plays out.”