Holly Hoopingarner isn’t only the immediate future of the Greenwood Community High School girls basketball team, she’s very much its present.
A role player on last season’s senior-laden Woodmen squad, the 5-foot-4 sophomore point guard emerged from the shadows in a big way this winter.
Having accrued 41 percent of her team’s points in what amounted to a 10-12 season, Hoopingarner is the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year.
Hoopingarner packed per-game averages of 19.4 points, 4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3 steals into her breakthrough season.
She was also the Woodmen’s most dependable perimeter shooter, converting 37 of 69 attempts (.536) behind the three-point arc.
She also proved accurate at the free-throw line, making 97 of her 119 tries (.815).
“We knew Holly had improved tremendously between her freshman and sophomore years and knew she would have to be the majority of our offense,” Woodmen coach Debbie Guckenberger said. “We never anticipated she would average nearly 20 points a game.
“We thought, optimistically, maybe more in the 14- to 16-point range.”
Talk about exceeding expectations.
A multiple-skill player with exceptional shooting ability, the Woodmen — not surprisingly — have even higher expectations for her next season.
“Holly shoots the basketball so well. It’s really picked up in the last six months,” Guckenberger said. “The one thing she could maybe improve on is getting more on her range. Maybe a step or two behind the 3-point stripe.
“Beyond that there aren’t a lot of flaws there.”
Like any successful athlete, Hoopingarner’s perfectionist nature keeps her striving to be better.
“I was happy with the results of the season, but I am very hard on myself and working to improve,” she said. “I probably need to work on creating my shot off the dribble and creating open shots for my teammates.”
It didn’t take long for the sophomore, Guckenberger’s lone non-senior starter from an 18-5 squad a year ago, to emerge as offensive Option A.
After scoring a total of 42 points in her first three games this season, Hoopingarner poured in a career-high 31 in a 57-54 overtime loss at Mid-State Conference foe Plainfield.
Hoopingarner’s consistency was also impressive. She delivered a double-digit point total every game this season.
“Three or four games into the season my teammates and I all connected, and everything started falling into place,” she said. “Things started clicking for us.”
Despite finishing under .500, Greenwood managed to advance to the championship game of its Class 4A sectional for a third consecutive year.
An honors student, Hoopingarner with a 4.025 grade-point average is ranked 11th in a class of 272 students. She hopes to make a career of either nursing, physical therapy or something in the field of sports medicine.
And though basketball is her athletic focal point, Hoopingarner can never be accused of not sampling other sports during those formative years.
“I tried track, softball, flag football, tennis. I started playing basketball when I was 3 or 4 years old, and it stayed with me,” she said. “Just the competitiveness that comes out of it. It’s so intense.”
Now at the midpoint of her varsity basketball career, Hoopingarner relishes having two more seasons to wear her No. 4 Greenwood jersey.
Understandably, so does Guckenberger.