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Former Winner standout Cox thriving as Presentation’s go-to player

Presentation College's Allison Cox, right, drives with the ball as Dakota State University's Taylor Volesky, left, defends during a game on Feb. 8 at the Strode Activity Center. (John Davis / Aberdeen American News)

ABERDEEN—Put Allison Cox anywhere on the basketball court, and you'll likely see her make a positive impact.

Presentation College's 5-foot-9 forward has thrived in her expanding do-it-all role with the Saints this season. However, Cox's versatility started before stepping on campus, emerging during her time at Todd County High School and Winner High School, where she spent her final two years.

"I moved around in high school, so I had to learn different parts to play," Cox said. "So I learned to (play) wherever."

Cox, a nursing major, played meaningful minutes off the bench as a true freshman, but started to flourish as a sophomore once she got acclimated to the speed of the game. Now as a junior, she's leading the 11-17 Saints in scoring (12.8 ppg), rebounding (7.0 rpg), assists (2.7 apg) and steals (1.5 spg), while ranking third in blocks (24).

That said, it took time for her to learn how to play as Presentation's top option after the Saints leading scorer last season, Macy Toelle, graduated.

"At the start, she was forcing some shots and kind of doing some things to try to get herself going," Presentation coach Eric Nelson said. "Then she realized teams were starting to double her and she needed to make the extra pass to her teammate to get the ball moving."

To counter the double teams, Presentation added sets in its four-out motion offense to get Cox the ball. She also has the green light to push the pace when facing a press, as well as taking the ball out then walking into a 3-pointer at the top of the key.

Cox is shooting 31.5 percent from beyond the arc this season, though is a mismatch because of her ability to take bigger defenders off the dribble but also post-up on smaller defenders. As a result, she's shooting a career-high 41.3 percent from the field and has five 20-point games, including 28 points against Dakota State University.

"Over the summer, I stayed in Aberdeen so I could go in the gym more often than I do at home," Cox said, of her improved shooting.

Cox also makes her presence felt in the paint. She ranks fourth in rebounding in the North Star Athletic Association as she's racked up three double-doubles this year.

And despite Nelson calling Cox a tweener on defense, she already has a career-high 24 blocks after swatting 16 shots as a sophomore. Cox sees it as a chance to make up for missed shots on the other end.

"A lot of her blocks are on the help side when one of our guards get beat," he said. "She slides over to help and is able to create some havoc in the lane and block some shots."

She had a season-high three blocks against then-No. 2 Dakota Wesleyan University as Nelson said, "she rises to the occasion" against ranked teams.

The Saints have more big games coming up. After their season finale at Dickinson State University on Saturday, they open the NSAA Conference tournament on Tuesday against Waldorf University in Forest City, Iowa.

"She's kind of at her best in some of the bigger games," Nelson said. "We're going to have some big games coming up with the conference tournament, so we're hoping she can continue that trend."