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Paulson having breakout year for Freeman

FREEMAN — Coming into the 2013-14 basketball season, Freeman boys’ basketball coach Rory Hermsen talked to his guard Cole Paulson about taking on a leadership role.

The junior point guard has taken the role in stride and has helped the Flyers to an 8-7 record by putting points on the scoreboard. In 15 games, he is averaging 23.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Paulson has scored 306 points, despite missing two games with a sprained ankle.

“He brings a lot of leadership, scoring ability and he handles the ball a lot for us,” Hermsen said. “He has been playing since he was an eighth-grader, so he also has some experience and he has been very impressive this season and consistent.”

Paulson, who averaged 15.2 points per game as a sophomore, has been given attention by opposing teams as they gameplan to stop him. But because of his summer experience playing with the South Dakota Heat, Paulson has been able to increase his numbers on the court from a year ago. Last summer, Paulson got the chance to test his skills against players from Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, which he says has contributed to his performance this season.

“I did a lot of work in the gym in the offseason and with my travel team,” Paulson said. “Playing against higher-level players helps you to come back stronger and it keeps you one step ahead of your competition.”

The 2013-14 season has been a banner year for Paulson, who has reached several milestones this season. Monday, Paulson scored his 1,000th point in a 67-64 loss to Hanson. The school’s career scoring record is 2,045 points held by Brian Goertz, who set the record in the 1990s.

“It would take a lot for him to break that record, but it is impressive to surpass the 1,000-point mark as a junior,” Hermsen said.

The three-year starter also set his career high in points, when he scored 43 points in an 86-83 overtime victory over Bon Homme in the second game of the season.

Paulson contributes much of his success this season to his teammates and his willingness to attack the basket.

“I like to play inside out,” Paulson said. “The first thing I like to do is get the basket, but if I can start knocking down shots, it opens things up for my team. As the season has gone on, we have improved as a team. Guys like Joseph Weier and Brennan Schmidt have stepped up and helped lead us too.”