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LaShay Holt, St. Paul Humboldt basketball
In guiding the Hawks to the championship of the Irondale tournament last week, the 5-9 senior wing had 22 points and 10 rebounds in a semifinal victory over FAIR School and topped that with a triple-double -- 30 points, 16 rebounds, 11 steals -- in a 62-58 victory over the host Knights in the finals.
Holt is averaging 28.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game -- not bad for a player who didn't play organized basketball until ninth grade.
"And I hated it," Holt admitted. "I felt left out. I didn't feel like I was good enough. I stopped going to practice, but my mom forced me to go. I thank her for that now."
She stuck out her freshman season and returned as a sophomore when Humboldt hired current coach Paul Richardson. She's been tearing up the St. Paul City Conference ever since.
Richardson's approach ignited a spark in Holt, she said.
"I liked him right away," she said. "He made me feel like I belonged there. Now, basketball is something I want to do all the time. It's like my second breath."
With a little more than two years of varsity experience, Holt admits that she wishes she had pursued the sport years earlier.
"I think about that," she said. "My coaches say I've got natural talent, that I'm a sponge. But the most important thing is that I'm playing now. I never want to stop playing."
The sophomore forward scored almost half of the Eagles' 11 goals in the Mid-Winter Meltdown. She tallied five times in three games, including twice in a 4-1 championship game victory over Minnetonka.
The senior wing has sparked the Spartans to a four-game winning streak. He scored 43 points in a victory over St. Paul Johnson on Dec. 22 and totaled 45 points in two victories in the Spartan Invitational last week.
The offensive skills of the junior forward were on display as the Pioneers won the Schwan Cup Silver Division. He had two goals, three assists and a buzz-worthy goal in a shootout victory over St. Thomas Academy in the finals.
The junior center has been nearly unstoppable, averaging 32.2 points per game. He scored 69 points in victories over Our Saviour New American (N.Y.) and White River (S.D.) in the Sioux Falls Mike Miller Classic, shooting 71 percent from the floor.
The Cougars won the Hill-Murray tournament to run their winning streak to nine games. The senior guard paced the team in scoring in three tournament games, totaling 49 points, including 19 in a 66-61 victory over Wayzata in the final.
This has been a season of milestones for the Penn State recruit. Thursday, he broke a 25-year-old school record with a 46-point performance in a victory over St. Louis Park. Earlier this season, Woodward topped 1,000 points for his career. He's averaging 26.7 points per game.