Brynn Holt can easily be mistaken for the type of player who proclaims to enjoy handing out an assist even more than scoring himself or herself.
Truth be told, though, she refreshingly admits she likes shooting and scoring a bit more than passing the ball.
“I enjoy an assist, but I’d rather shoot,” the Sparta junior forward said.
Holt did both while factoring prominently in the Lady Trojans’ 55-43 triumph over Chadwick on Tuesday.
Holt scored 11 points and had at least a handful of assists. She led Sparta with 65 assists last season and had 67 assists as a freshman two years ago.
“No one really notices assists, but they’re important to me,” Holt said. “Some nights, my shots aren’t falling. But I can usually have some good passes every game. (Coach Josh) Loveland knows I’m always looking down the floor.”
It was no coincidence Holt was at mid-court as Sparta brought the ball upcourt.
“We had her on the back side of the press-breaker because of her length,” Loveland said. “We flashed her in the middle and tried to get her the ball and attack from there. Her passing was really good. She made the right play a lot of the time and we got some easy ones.
“Last year, she was a transition type who would also hit some open 3-pointers,” he added. “This year, we’re asking her to do more of both and try to make things happen off the dribble and utilize her passing ability.”
Loveland liked how all of his players passed the ball.
“Our ball moves well. We’re unselfish,” he said. “We use the term, ‘We’re looking to get our shot, not my shot.’”
Shelby McMurry’s role for Sparta has also changed. A point guard as a freshman three years ago, she’s now also working away from the ball and is best characterized as a swingman capable of playing in the backcourt or along the front line.
“Coach puts me about everywhere. Sometimes, it can be kind of confusing,” McMurry said. “But I don’t mind. I like it a lot better that way.”
Despite not playing basketball last winter, McMurry improved her athleticism by competing in track for the first time in the spring. She ran the 200, 400, 4 x 100 relay and 4 x 800 relay.
McMurry repeatedly finished on fast breaks Tuesday with a breakaway layup on her way to a game-high 15 points.
“With her length, athleticism and speed, we can have her run down the floor and make teams focus on getting back on defense,” Loveland said. “If they don’t, we’re going to throw it down to her and try to get her an easy one.”
Chadwick (3-2) received 15 points from Paisley Gilbert and 13 from Maddie Nalley. With Abi Smith and Kerrigan Guerin both out with injuries, the Lady Cardinals couldn’t match Sparta’s depth.
“I try to come up with rotations depending on matchups and who’s playing well,” Loveland said. “With the pace of the game, it gives us an advantage.”
Sparta (3-0) moves to face Strafford this week, before matchups against Ava, Ash Grove and Marshfield. Those four all have a winning record and are a combined 11-5.
“That’s a tough stretch,” Loveland said. “We’d take 2-2, or 3-1 would be great.”
“Coach is pushing us out of our comfort zone,” McMurry said. “It’s going to be good for us.”
SPARTA (55) — M. Fulton 3 0-1 6, Roller 4 0-0 10, A. Fulton 0 0-2 0, Youngman 3 1-1 7, McMurry 6 2-4 15, Loveland 0 1-4 1, Holt 4 0-0 11, Brown 1 0-2 3.
CHADWICK (43) — Little 4 0-0 8, Nalley 4 2-3 13, Loveland 0 4-7 4, Burkhart 1 0-2 2, Bilyeu 1 0-0 2, Gilbert 6 2-4 14.
Sparta 14 8 14 19 - 55
Chadwick 11 6 13 13. - 43
3-point goals - Holt 3, Nalley 3, Roller 2.