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Milford’s Nelson blossoming at Colby Sawyer

It’s hard to believe a 6-foot-4-inch basketball player with the athletic skills and overall ability of Kyle Nelson could get lost in the shuffle on a New Hampshire high school team. But that’s how it seemed during his years at Milford High School.

As the Spartans won back-to-back state titles, Nelson, more often than not, was in the shadows.

Mike Mitchell was the confident point guard who often had the ball in his hands. Jamie Holder and Mike O’Loughlin were the dangerous wing men, both capable of drilling 3-pointers and making spectacular drives to the basket.

Nelson, who would come up big in big games during a two-year stretch in which the Spartans lost just once, was nevertheless often overlooked, although teammates liked to say the Milford Big Three were actually the Big Four.

Two years later, all four are playing in college. Mitchell in his second year at Plattsburg State, O’Loughlin is thriving at Wheaton after transferring from Trinity and Holder is getting serious minutes as a freshman at Concordia College in New York City after a year of prep school.

And Nelson’s game is blossoming as a sophomore at Colby-Sawyer College. He recently earned a spot in the starting lineup and scored a career-high 21 points in a victory two week ago over Johnson State.

“In high school, my role
was mostly rebounding and blocking shots,’’ Nelson said. “Now I’m finally getting a chance to show off my entire game.’’

A starter in 11 of 20 games so far, he’s tied for third on the team in scoring at 7.7 points per game and leads the Chargers in 3-pointers made with 34 and blocked shots with 11.

“I worked real hard on my 3-point shooting in the off season,’’ Nelson said. “I didn’t take a lot of 3-pointers in high school.’’

Nelson also responded to the physical challenges of college basketball by hitting the weight room in the off season and adding 20 pounds.

Ironically it was a player from a former high school rival, James Tobin of Brookline, who helped focus Nelson on what it would take to succeed at Colby-Sawyer.

“He really mentored me last season,’’ Nelson said of Tobin, who graduated after averaging a career-best 11.9 points in a role similar to the one Nelson is playing now.

“He (Tobin) was a good teammate on and off the court,’’ Nelson said. “We’re really young this year, so I’m trying to take on that same kind of leadership role.’’

Colby-Sawyer coach Bill Foti thinks Nelson’s role will continue to expand as he improves as a defender and rebounder.

“He’s in there now because he’s our best 3-point shooter,’’ Foti said. “With his athleticism, I know he can be a better rebounder.

“I think he just needs to get a little edge, be nastier and more aggressive, but I can say that about a lot of players.’’

LOGAN GILLIS

Bentley senior second baseman Logan Gillis of Merrimack had his second career four-hit game Sunday in the third game of a season-opening series at fourth-ranked University of Tampa.

Gillis hit a league best .376 last summer for the Nashua Silver Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. He had a team-high six hits over the weekend in Tampa. He led the Falcons in hits (64), doubles (13) and RBIs (38) last season.

ERIC HOWARD

Eric Howard, a College of St. Rose freshman from Amherst, was named Rookie of the Week in the Northeast 10 Conference.

At the NE-10 championships last weekend he was second in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke and took 10th in the 200 individual medley.

Howard swam on four relay teams including the 800-freestyle team that finished first. Howard swam a personal best time of 1 minute, 44.38 seconds for his 200 meters.

RACHAEL CARTER

Sophomore Rachael Carter of Merrimack continues to lead the Salem State women’s basketball team in scoring at 14.2 points per game.

Carter also is averaging a team-best 4.2 assists. Her 4.7 rebounds per game is fourth on the team.

IVY MUCHUMA

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute junior Ivy Muchuma of Nashua won the weight throws and finished fourth in both the shot put and long jump Saturday at the Dartmouth Indoor Classic.

Muchuma, a Nashua North graduate, threw the weight 52 feet, 7 inches. Her best long jump was 15-6 and she threw the shot 41-1.

JAVON WILLIAMS, DEZRON WILSON

Nashua North graduates and New England College freshmen Javon Williams and Dezron Wilson are averaging 7.6 points and 5.1 respectively for the Pilgrims.