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Fieldcrest sophomore Tessa Holland is the 2012-13 NewsTribune Girls Basketball Player of the Year. The 5-foot-10 guard/forward averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 1.8 assists and 1 block per game. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
MINONK — Tessa Holland scored a lot this season for the Fieldcrest girls basketball team.
And blocked shots.
And had steals.
While playing all five positions.
It’s safe to say the Lady Knights sophomore did a little bit of everything this winter.
“She is just such a versatile player,” Fieldcrest coach Ron Kreiser said. “With her size and length, she can play inside, but she also is such a good ball handler and has the speed to get up and down the floor. This season, I was hoping she could complement Haley (Ruestman) as the point guard at times but also go inside and play as a post.”
This season, she did just that, and it’s what made the well-round Holland so successful.
This winter Holland led the area in rebounds (9 per game) and was fourth in scoring (14), blocks (1) and steals (2.4), all while playing a key role in helping the Lady Knights to the most single-season wins in Fieldcrest history.
For all she did this season, Holland is the 2012-13 NewsTribune Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“I like that (I can do a little bit of everything) because when you play against girls who are just good at one thing, a good defender can shut them down and they have nothing else to offer,” Holland said. “I feel like if someone shuts me down scoring-wise, I can still get rebounds and assists to help my team out.” Holland is the first Fieldcrest player to win the award and is only the third sophomore to ever claim the honor.
“She is just the type of kid who you knew in practice was going to compete, give 110 percent and get after it,” said Kreiser, who has coached Holland for the past four seasons. “She never ceased to amaze me because she worked so hard in practice and in games that I knew anything was possible.”
Standing at 5-foot-10, Holland came a long way this season.
After being a 5-foot eighth grade point guard, she grew nearly seven inches two years ago and then another three inches last offseason.
After team needs necessitated that Holland play last season as an undersized post, she expanded to her all-purpose role this season.
Listed on the roster as a guard, Holland shared point guard duties with Ruestman, played as a forward on the wing and also saw plenty of action in the paint.
“Whatever coach called on me to do, I did,” Holland said. “He never really told me how it was going to go — I just kind of figured it out — but I like being able to play multiple positions.”
It’s what helped make her such a dynamic player.
“As a freshman, she played inside more, hit the boards and played good defense,” Kreiser said. “But this year, she evolved with her skills and confidence. There were times she’d get the rebound and go coast to coast. Freshman year was mainly get it to the hole and shoot layups. This year, she shot 10- and 15-footers.”
Holland — who also is a state medalist jumper in track and field — showed her array of talent in her statistics as she was the only local player to finish in the top 10 in four of the five individual categories.
She also finished with 11 double-doubles in 28 games, scored double digits in 23 games and had double-digit rebounds in 11 games.
“Becoming more physically stronger is where she really got better and improved this season,” Kreiser said.
She wasn’t the only one who improved this season.
Along with Ruestman — an NT All-Area First-Team player — and Holland’s other Fieldcrest teammates, the Lady Knights had a program-best 18-10 record this winter and went 9-3 in the Heart of Illinois Conference.
“It was really great and took a team effort,” Holland said of Fieldcrest’s success. “We, of course, want to improve on that next year and want to get a 20-win season and do more than just that. But it’s special to be able to say that we are the first team to (win that many games).”
Fieldcrest did so thanks in part to its multi-talented and multiple-position star.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Holland said of playing all five positions. “If you’re having an off night in the post, you can take over up top and set up some plays. But if you’re not doing so well setting up some plays, then you can take the ball down low. It just creates more opportunities, and I think it just made me an overall better player.”
A player that still has two high school seasons left and one who is likely to reach 1,000 career points next season.
“When I was the junior high coach, you could see her talent,” Kreiser said. “Even back then, she didn’t know the word quit and didn’t want to lose. She is going to work as hard as it takes to be successful and to make everybody else successful. She has such a drive.
“The sky is the limit for her in the future.”
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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