October 26, 2010 9:39:00 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
The start of the Rachel Hollivay era at Heritage Academy will have to wait.
A fractured left foot will keep the 6-foot-5 junior forward/center, who is ranked the No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2012 by ESPN''s HoopGurlz, out of tonight''s season-opening Heritage Academy Girls Preseason Tournament.
Coach Bruce Allsup said Hollivay, who transferred from New Hope High School, injured her foot at a recent Amateur Athletic Skills Camp. He said doctors told Hollivay she already had a stress fracture in her foot. Even though Hollivay isn''t expected back in the lineup until at least the third week of November, Allsup said the injury comes at a good time so Hollivay could get it handled and move on with her season.
"I think she is going to lose some conditioning while she is out, but she has so much athletic ability that I don''t think that is going to hurt her as much," Allsup said. "She might need a few games to get her shot down, but I think the main part is going to be her conditioning."
Hollivay watched Monday with a walking boot on her foot as her teammates prepared for the tonight''s game against Carroll Academy at 7:45. Starkville Academy will take on Madison-Ridgeland Academy at 5:15 p.m.
Starkville Academy and Heritage Academy will meet at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday before the two local teams will exchange opponents Thursday night.
The regular season will begin next week.
Heritage Academy should be used to playing with a marquee player. Last season, Madison Ford anchored the frontline and was the team''s go-to player. Ford has moved on from the team that went 11-18 last season, but Allsup feels confident because he has plenty of experience and he has seen improvement from many of his players.
"Madison was the type of player our team wanted to get the ball to, and our team knew that and understood that and did a good job with that," Allsup said. "These girls already know how to get the ball to people when they need to."
Allsup will look to seniors and Stephanie Cruse, Christibeth Nelson, Bailey Rader, Lindsey House, and Marla Miller to complement Hollivay.
Like last year with Ford, Allsup said there will be plenty of scoring opportunities for other players when defenses focus on trying to stop Hollivay.
As athletic and as talented as Hollivay is, Allsup knows the talents of one player won''t help his team win a state title. He said he has emphasized the younger players need to raise their level of play and that everyone -- from the top player to the last player on the bench -- needs to do their part and to play with enthusiasm and effort.
Allsup said the key will be how well Heritage Academy can move the basketball and hit shots to make teams pay for their defensive choices.
Another key will be how well Hollivay re-adjusts when she returns. Allsup said the players have welcomed Hollivay to the team and things worked well the first few months she was with the team. He hopes everyone will pick up where they left off in a few weeks.
"I think the girls realize she can make us a lot better basketball team," Allsup said. "I think all of them are here to make us successful and to help us be as good as we can be. Rachel really has really fit in well. She spent all summer with the girls and has bonded with the girls. She has a good personality, and it has been a good fit."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.