As with many programs around the state, the Holtville boys basketball team has already dealt with its fair share of uncertainty at the beginning of the new season. The Bulldogs had to face nearly a three-week break between games and when they finally returned to the court, it was without the entire roster available which brought even more challenges to the table.
“It makes it a lot more difficult,” Holtville coach Michael Collin said. “You try to strategize as a coach as much as you can based off what you know but then you get the word the day before or the day of the game that part of your plan is out. We don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next.”
That challenge came to fruition last week when Holtville returned to the court with multiple starters missing. However, it did still have leading scorer Braxton Buck available and he took the reins for the week, especially on the offensive end.
“I knew during practice that we were going to gel together well even though we hadn’t played together,” Buck said. “The guys we were missing are key components of our team so we just went out and did the best we could.”
Buck was on fire from beyond the arc and averaged 21.7 points while stuffing the stat sheet elsewhere across three games in a four-day span. Buck is the Elmore County Player of the Week.
“It’s huge, especially when you have young guys that you have to pull up,” Collins said. “We had five in that game that had never been a part of a varsity game. So for them to be able to rely on a senior like Braxton, that’s massive to still have someone who can score the way he can.”
In the first game of the week against West Blocton, Buck put up 13 points in the first half but was held scoreless in the final 16 minutes as the Bulldogs fell 69-62. He made sure to step things up a notch the next night against a talented Highland Home squad.
Buck set a new career-high with 41 points to go with four assists and two steals. He made nine 3-pointers and kept the Bulldogs in the game until the fourth quarter where the visitors proved to be too much in a 68-56 loss for Holtville.
Buck’s performance was still noteworthy, setting an individual record since Collins took over the program and Collins believes it could be a new school record but that has yet to be confirmed. Either way, the big night was memorable for the senior.
“We were in warmups and I wasn’t missing any shots so I knew I was going to have a decent game,” Buck said. “I hit a 3 after halftime and I knew I was going to get a career high... It means a lot. One of my goals before this season was to get a 40-point game this season so I was just happy.”
Holtville ended its losing skid Thursday night by defeating McKenzie, 76-56. Buck did not need to do too much this time around but still knocked down three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points while adding four rebounds, four steals and four assists.
After his big week, Buck is already focused on his next performance and he’s hoping it can lead to more success for his team moving forward.
“I’ve already put that past so I’m just worried about the next game,” Buck said.