“Cole has the green light,” Hasselbrink said. “We set a lot of our offense up to make sure he gets looks and gets the ball. We want the ball in his hands.”
The Saints got to within six early in the fourth quarter. Gabe Stripe made two free throws and a bucket inside and Luke Parmer also connected twice from the free-throw line.
Parmer entered the game averaging eight points per game but scored a team-high 24 in the loss. Stripe finished with 12.
Cole Damman hit a pair of free throws and then Johnston pushed the margin back to 11 with a 3-pointer.
“Those are the kinds of shots he is going to get,” Hasselbrink said of Johnston. “We tell our guys all the time to shoot wide open 3s. Those are the shots we want and the shots he’s in the game to go make.”
After Parmer hit a jumper, Nelsen responded with a bucket inside and a 3-pointer to put the Bolts in front by 14. The Saints never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.
“We knew they were a pretty small team. I figured it was going to be another big night for me,” Nelsen said.
Hasselbrink said he liked the matchup with Nelsen against the smaller Saints.
“We want to find mismatches and we had a mismatch tonight with Carter,” Hasselbrink said. “We’ve waited for a long time to see him do what he is now doing. He struggled to start the year but it’s coming around. This was our expectation for him.”
Johnston scored eight points and Cody Damman added six points and four rebounds. Sophomore Rory Heer did not score but dished out 10 assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Baxter shot 45 percent from the floor and made 15-of-23 from the line. The Bolts also were 9-of-22 from 3-point range.
“We are playing really well right now. We have a lot of guys contributing,” Nelsen said. “Cole is having a big year and I have been on a little bit of a roll lately. Everything is going really well right now and it’s fun.”
The Bolts host Collins-Maxwell at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 10 in Baxter. It’s also the school’s Hall of Fame night.