By Nathan Pace
Four years ago, Holly Hoopingarner became Greenwood’s first Indiana All-Star from the girls’ basketball program.
Now she is trying to guide IUPUI to the NCAA Tournament as a senior leader for the Jaguars.
“Being at IUPUI, I’ve grown a lot as a player and as a person,” Hoopingarner said. “I’ve been fortunate to be with great players and coaches.”
In the past two seasons Hoopingarner has secured a spot in the starting line-up and became a player that coach Austin Parkinson trusts with the basketball.
“I’m better defensively and have a higher basketball IQ,” Hoopingarner said. “Being able to make reads as the point guard on the floor. What defense they are in to help lead my team.”
While at Greenwood she became the record-holder for career points in the Lady Woodmen program with 1,614. She surpassed 1,000 points during her junior season and helped Greenwood win two Johnson County championships. Her Indiana All-Star status can be seen on the wall in Greenwood’s gym.
“It meant everything - being able to represent my school was a high honor to me,” Hoopingarner said of being Greenwood’s first female on the Indiana All-Star team.
Greenwood never won a sectional trophy during her four years there, but the Woodmen did force favored Center Grove into overtime in the sectional title game as a senior.
Always confident of her ability, the 5-5 backcourt dyanmo has never let size affect her attitude, although she never received offers from any Big Ten women’s basketball program.
“I’ve never let my height be something to hold me back, the fourth-year Jaguar said. “I’ve never looked at height as a disadvantage for me.”
IUPUI didn’t see her height as a disadvantage either.
She played immediately in 31 games as a freshman and averaged 6.3 points per game. She scored six points in the Summit League championship game that IUPUI lost in overtime to Western Illinois for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
IUPUI has a great chance to get into the tournament later this year. The Jags are the top seed currently at 10-1 in Horizon League play. If IUPUI were to win the conference tournament in Indianapolis March 3-10, Hoopingarner would get to play in the big dance for the first time in her career. This year, the savvy guard is averaging 10.2 points per game, No. 2 on the team. She leads the team in assists with 4.0 per game.
What doesn’t show up in the box score, however, is her improvement on defense.
“I’m a much better one-on-one defender than when I was in high school,” she said. “Our system requires us to play defense in general. We had more offensive focus in high school,” Hoopingarner said.
Once her season is over, the IUPUI senior plans to transition from player to coach with a degree in sports administration.
“I want to get into college basketball coaching,” Hoopingarner said. “Hopefully get a graduate assistant position with a college, get my masters and get my feet into coaching.”
In coaching, just as a player, her feet and basketball mind will guide her.