Hollingsworth shakes off constant defensive pressure

HOLLINGSWORTH: Despite constant defensive attention, senior guard eclipses Capital scoring record

March 9, 2010 

The opposing coach's directive never changed.

Stop Tosha Hollingsworth.

And yet somehow Capital’s shifty, 5-foot-7 senior guard, despite the double teams and gimmick defenses aimed at keeping the ball out of her hands, still got her points.

Hollingsworth, the target of every defense Capital faced in its ride to the Class 3A state tournament, averaged 22.5 points, breaking the school’s single-season scoring record. She never scored fewer than 16 and popped in a season-high 29.

“She’s the best guard I’ve ever coached,” said Colleen Wells, who has a 156-67 record and three state appearances in her nine seasons as Capital’s head coach. “She’s the complete player.”

Hollingsworth, a back-to-back MVP of the Western Cascade Conference and The Olympian’s girls player of the year, is a shooter, passer and defender.

“She’s so well-rounded,” Wells said. “She plays both ends of the court. She can handle the ball, she can pass and she can shoot.”

She’s a scorer but not a gunner. Hollingsworth shot 47 percent from the field, 38 percent from 3-point range. She averaged 3.7 steals and 5.3 rebounds. With at least two games at state remaining in her high school career, Hollingsworth has scored 538 points this season, shattering the record of 489 set by Molly McKinnon in 1998.

The weight of being her team’s primary scorer sits heavy at times.

“Sometimes I feel the pressure,” Hollingsworth said. “I’ve learned to deal with it.”

Hollingsworth’s kryptonite isn’t opposing defenses, though. And big, must-win games don’t even have an impact, they don’t make her nervous or anxious.

It’s when her parents came to watch her play that she frets.

“The only time I saw Tosha get nervous was when her parents were in the stands,” Wells said. “She asked them not to come.”

When her parents, Eric and Angie Hollingsworth, showed up for senior night, Hollingsworth’s final home game, she picked up three fouls in the first quarter.

“And she melted into the bench,” Wells said.

Hollingsworth doesn’t want to disappoint.

“My goal is to make my parents proud of me,” she said. “It’s just an extra amount of pressure if they’re there. It’s just me. I know they’re proud of me no matter what.”

Hollingsworth has a twin brother, Tim. But Tim, known as the quiet twin, didn’t play high school sports.

Tosha’s love for basketball was sparked by her older brother, Sean, who played basketball at Capital and is now in the Army.

“I always followed my brother,” Hollingsworth said. “He started playing and I started playing.”

Hollingsworth, a three-year starter, discovered something about her game this season: She’s a good 3-point shooter, going 31-for-82 from behind the arc. Overall, she made 164 of her 351 shots from the field.

“I was more of a driver and a slasher before,” Hollingsworth said. “I’m just more confident with the 3-pointer now. Before even when I was open I wouldn’t shoot it.”

Not anymore.

When a defender plays back, Hollingsworth will pop the outside jumper. When a defender closes in, the Capital senior drives to the basket, looking for the shot or the open teammate. Hollingsworth averages two assists per game, but her coach is certain she could average more.

“But that’s really not my expectations for her,” Wells said. “I haven’t asked her to be our assist-maker. I’ve asked her to be our scorer.”

A team that returned only four players with any varsity experience, the Cougars compiled a 17-7 record and won the Western Cascade Conference, exceeding their coach’s expectations.

“Tosha has played a big role in that,” Wells said. “She’s our only starting senior. She’s evolved into more of a team leader. She’s been a big part of our success.”

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