Courtney Hollander hates to lose, her coach says. Fortunately for Hollander, she hasn’t had to worry about losing much this season. The Falcons, led by seven seniors, are 15-3 and 9-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Courtney Hollander does a little bit of everything for the Seattle Pacific women’s basketball team.
The 6-foot senior guard is among the team leaders in nearly every statistical category while also being an outstanding defender. It’s no wonder her coach loves that versatility, but it’s something else about her that really stands out.
“She doesn’t like to lose, and she’s going to find a way to make her team better,” said coach Julie Heisey. “That’s one thing I liked when I recruited her. Courtney doesn’t really care if she scores, but all of a sudden when the game is on the line, she finds a way to get an offensive rebound, or she finds a way to drive to the basket and get to the foul line.”
Fortunately for Hollander, she hasn’t had to worry about losing much this season. The Falcons, led by seven seniors, are 15-3 and 9-2 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. They have won six straight games, including a 66-48 win on Saturday over No. 4 Alaska Anchorage, a team SPU had not defeated in six years.
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“I can definitely say that was the highlight of our four years for the seniors because it had been so long since we had beaten them,” Hollander said.
The Falcons’ success has been propelled by excellent defense.
“Experience goes a long way with defense, because defense is a lot of communication,” Hollander said. “When you play with people for three or four years and you have them all on the floor together, communication is easier. People talk a lot about chemistry on the floor, and that comes with experience and that has really helped us.”
Hollander has also proven her toughness time and again. As a senior at Lynden Christian High School, she dislocated her kneecap but missed just two games before leading her team to the 1A state title.
As a sophomore at SPU, she broke her pinkie but didn’t miss a game. Then last season, she suffered a sprained ankle, then dislocated her knee again, tearing the medial patellofemoral ligament in the process.
Still, she missed just the final two weeks of the regular season before returning for the GNAC tournament.
“It can’t be fixed without surgery,” she said of her knee. “I didn’t get surgery after the season because it’s a six-month recovery. The plan now is to get it after the season.”
Aided by “my big knee brace that keeps my kneecap in place,” Hollander said it hasn’t been that bad.
The numbers bear that out. She is second on the team in scoring at 11.4 points a game and second in rebounding at 7.2 a game after leading the team in both categories last season.
“She is really versatile, and I think that versatility has meant a lot to our program,” Heisey said. “She is always one of our best rebounders, but she can also be one of our best three-point shooters. She’s a really good defender: She’s long, but she’s quick. She can defend a guard or a post, even a post who is really strong because she is agile and can move around.”
It’s that agility that made Hollander also a standout soccer player, playing for select teams and for Lynden Christian. She was recruited in soccer and basketball, but she followed her heart.
“My mom would always say if you could take everything away and you had to choose, what would it be? And it was always basketball,” she said.
Hollander said winning a state title in basketball helped set her up for success at SPU.
“It set a standard that I wanted to set, and it gave me that championship mindset coming into my collegiate career,” she said.
After not playing much as a freshman, she became a key starter in her sophomore season. She said her four years have gone really fast, and she recently applied to the University of Washington graduate program in sports administration.
Still, Hollander’s focus is squarely in the present as the second half of the conference season has just begun. Her parents have made a point to attend every game this season, and even plan to make the trip to Alaska.
“Everyone talks about how that last year flies by, and it’s kind of true,” Hollander said. “You’re playing with all of your friends you’ve been playing with the past three years, and it’s been a fun year.”