By Jeff Arenz
TYLER - It's no surprise that Russell-Tyler-Ruthton senior Brett Peterson is a star on the prep basketball court.
After all, the 6-foot-4 guard was selected as The 2013 Marshall Independent All-Area Basketball Player of the Year last April.
But Peterson's start to the Knights' 2013-14 hoops campaign has been astounding.
When he was named the area's top player last season, Peterson averaged 19.8 points for RTR, which ended up 27-2 overall. Through seven games this year, he has produced a pair of 40-point games and a pair of 30-point contests while averaging 32.7 points overall.
"I played a lot of AAU basketball during the high school offseason with my teammates. My goals were to get better every day and to get into the weight room a little bit," Peterson said. "You have to have a will to win for it to pay off during the regular (prep) season. I wanted to commit myself to doing that and to making my teammates better."
Peterson said scoring provides 'a great feeling,' but his ultimate goal is to win games for RTR.
"When it all comes down, you just want to win," Peterson said. "If that means that I need to score 40 points, that's what I want to do. Even it only takes five points, I'm willing to do that, as long as we win."
Peterson began his scoring explosion with a 36-point effort in the Knights' 72-68 season-opening home loss to Ellsworth on Dec. 2. The next night, he scored 22 points in a 76-67 Camden Conference South Division road loss at Tracy-Milroy-Balaton.
On a Saturday afternoon at Adrian, Peterson led Russell-Tyler-Ruthton with 40 points during a 90-88 non-conference victory in overtime Dec. 7. The Knights, trailing by a point in the final minute, won their first game this season after Peterson drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from an estimated distance of 30 feet.
"The first play that we ran, with about five seconds to go, was set up for me. But I missed a shot from about 10 feet inside the lane and we ended up fouling Adrian," Peterson said. "I couldn't believe that I had missed that shot. I told myself that, if I had another opportunity, I wasn't going to miss."
When the Dragons missed a pair of free-throw attempts, Isaiah DeRuyter collected the rebound and threw an outlet pass to Peterson, who provided the game-winning heroics after sprinting down the sideline.
RTR, winners of its last five games, received 22 points from Peterson in a 66-54 Camden South home victory against Lakeview on Dec. 10. Then, the Knights handed Canby (8-1) its only loss thus far - an 85-79 decision in triple overtime - after Peterson had a season-high 46 points.
When Russell-Tyler-Ruthton returned to Adrian to play in the Dragons' Holiday Tournament last week, Peterson had 28 points in an 83-66 semifinal win over Wabasso on Thursday and 35 points in a 70-55 championship victory against the host school Friday.
According to statistics posted on the Minnesota State High School League website, Waconia's Ryan Boll has generated 192 points this season. He tops the state scoring list of all of the statistics that have been submitted by coaches. However, Peterson, who has 219 points thus far, could claim to be the top scorer in Minnesota with about one-quarter of the games played this year.
Knights head coach Ted Kern has watched Peterson step into a new role.
"I think that he has accepted (the role of scoring) after deferring it a lot of times last season," Kern said. "Last season, we had plenty of scoring threats, especially on the inside, with Dylan Kor and Newt Dunblazer. Brett was willing to give up his shot to give us those looks down low. A lot of the shots he passed up last year, he's taken it upon himself to take those shots this year."
With great success.
Averaging 32.7 points per game this season.
QUOTING PETERSON: "When it all comes down, you just want to win. If that means that I need to score 40 points, that's what I want to do. Even it only takes five points, I'm willing to do that, as long as we win."