By BLAKE TOPPMEYER Herald-Whig Sports Writer MEMPHIS, Mo. -- Cali Holt built her high school basketball careerat Scotland County on defense. Defense also played a role in hercareer being sidelined her junior season. Playing Brashear in the North Shelby Tournament, Holt came up witha steal and started a 2-1 fastbreak going the other direction.Teammate Megan Creek was cutting toward the basket, and Holt jumpedto pass to Creek over the defender. |
When Holt came down from her jump in that Jan. 18, 2011 game, herseason ended. "I came down on the outside of my foot, and my knee popped out,popped back in and popped back out. I tore everything," Holt said,recalling the play. Everything, in this case, was the ACL, MCL and meniscus in Holt'sleft knee.
Although the injury knocked Holt out for the remainderof the season, she returned for her senior campaign and was back inthe starting lineup for a third straight year. The 5-foot-5 guard averaged 7.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per gamelast season, but more importantly, she resumed her role as adefensive stopper for the Lady Tigers. Holt will compete for theMissouri girls all-stars in the 30th annual McDonald's/Herald-WhigClassic on June 9 at Quincy University 's Pepsi Arena. "I always thought she was one of the best on-ball defenders prettymuch in the area, especially in our conference, where she wouldtake and disrupt other players from doing what they wanted," saidJaryt Hunziker, Holt's coach at Scotland County who will coach theBoonville girls next season. "So we needed her on a nightly basis to be disruptive on defenseand be our best defensive player, and anything we got out of heroffensively was just that much extra.
"She just loved the challenge of, it wasn't about how many pointsshe could score, it was more of how many points she would allowfrom the other team." Knowing what Holt brought, Hunziker was worried about what wouldhappen to his 2011 team after Holt went down. "I knew I had a lot of offensive threats. It was just, ‘OK,how good are we going to be on the defensive end?'" Hunziker said. As it turned out, Scotland County lost another starter, Anna Duley,to a season-ending knee injury later in the North Shelby Tournamentbut still went on to win a Class 2 district title. For Holt, seeing her teammates win a district title was exciting,but it was also painful to not be able to participate in it.
"I'm going to be honest, I cried because I wished so badly that Icould've been out there experiencing exactly what they were," Holtsaid. "I still felt like I was a part of the team, and we all wonthat game, but I really do wish I would've had the opportunity toplay in it." That gave Holt the determination to finish her career with a bangas a senior. "I know the feeling I had just sitting on the bench when they wonthe championship. I got chills and everything, and that right therewas what motivated me," Holt said.
"I wanted to be able toexperience that for myself." She went through her rehabilitation process at a rapid pace,attending five sessions a week and completing the rehab in sixmonths. She finished the rehab in August and made it back forScotland County's softball season last fall, starting for the LadyTigers, who went 12-7. Her motivation was especially great on the basketball court, whereshe ran the point of Scotland County's 1-2-2 ball press. "I saw this summer, the girls did a good job without her, but therewere a lot of games where I was disappointed in the intensity,especially on the defensive end," Hunziker said. "We had (thatintensity) when the season came.
"I think a lot of it was because of her getting at it quite a bitand leading by example, and other people picked up their intensityjust by watching her." For Hunziker, it was refreshing to see a player embrace thedefense-first mentality he preached at Scotland County since takingover there before the 2007 season. "Coming here and trying to get kids to buy into the defensive part,I think she did it from Day 1," Hunziker said. "You always knewwhat you were going to get from her every night defensively. Shewasn't going to take a night off." Ultimately, Scotland County came up short of repeating as districtchamps, falling 38-31 to Milan in the semifinals to wrap up a 16-10season. "I wanted to do anything we could to get there.
We didn't, but westill had a good year and there were a lot of good things that cameout of it," Holt said. A good aspect even came out of the injury. The rehab process showed Holt that she had an interest in physicaltherapy, and she'll attend Linn State Technical College inJefferson City, Mo., this fall with plans to become a physicaltherapist assistant. "(The injury) was kind of a blessing in disguise," Holt said. "Ittaught me that things can happen to you.
I never thought that thatwas going to be one of the things that happened to me, but it did,and it taught me how hard you actually have to work to get back towhere you were." Holt put in the work to make that happen. -- email@example.com/221-3367.
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