Holden Poole leads Mt. Olive JVs in scoring

Published 9:46 am Thursday, February 23, 2017

Although his team has struggled mightily for wins, Holden Poole has been Mr. Reliable for the Mount Olive JV men’s basketball team over the past two seasons.

The Trojans are a Division-II program. Poole is a 6-4, 225-pound inside force from Advance. He was among 10 players on the 2016-17 JV team.

For two seasons, Poole has played power forward and center for coach Chris Holloway, who is a varsity assistant coach and the head JV coach. Poole has been a starter since day one, leading the team in scoring both years. As a freshman in 2015-16, he averaged 13 points per game, with a high of 24 against Vance Granville Community College.

This season Poole raised his game to another level, averaging 15.5 points and converting 81 percent of his free throws. He scored 21 against Louisburg, including the game-winning basket. He scored 20 against North Carolina’s JV.

“In terms of development, I’ve seen him become a better rebounder and he’s definitely gotten in a lot better shape over the two years in terms of taking care of his body and doing extra running,” Holloway said. “And he’s improved his shooting percentage.”

Poole, who made the Conference Carolinas Presidential Honor Roll as a freshman, was named a co-captain for the 2016-17 season.

“He’s been a leader for the team,” Holloway said. “He’s instrumental in getting guys together, having open gyms and things like that. His consistency from last year to this year (is a reason for making him co-captain), and taking care of what he had to do off the court academically.”

Poole was the hero in Mount Olive’s only win this season, a one-point decision over Louisburg. Poole tipped in a missed shot right before the buzzer.

“It was drawn up for Jimmy (Jessup) to catch the ball coming across the lane with a full head of steam headed toward the basket,” Holloway said. “If he missed, I told Holden to trail the play and tip it in. It just so happened he missed, Holden trailed the play, tipped it in and won the game. Everybody stormed the court. It was a pretty exciting time.”

The Trojans, who are outmanned most nights out, have three victories in two years. The hurdles are massive because they regularly face community colleges and junior colleges, with only a few JV opponents mixed in.

“Usually when we play JV teams, we do pretty well,” Poole said. “But against community colleges, we’re playing guys who could go to high D-IIs and low D-Is; they just didn’t have the grades in high school. So, yeah, they’re pretty good teams.”

In late January, Mount Olive closed the season with a much-anticipated trip to the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill. During Poole’s 20-point performance against the Tar Heels, who won handily, he went 8 for 8 from the foul line.

“That is definitely the highlight of the season,” Holloway said. “At the beginning of the season before we played any games, everybody was most excited about playing in the Dean Dome because it’s Carolina and all the tradition and history it has.”

“It’s crazy to go out there and think about all the former Carolina players and the great players in general who have played on that court, and to look up and see all the championship banners …,” Poole said. “Hubert Davis was the (UNC JV) coach this year, and he’s a notable guy from his playing days, broadcasting and coaching. That was pretty neat.”

Poole doubles as a manager for the varsity team at Mount Olive. Earning a spot on the varsity roster before he’s done would be great, but Poole is content to play JV for two more years if he doesn’t get pulled up.

“I plan on playing all four years,” he said. “It’s not a huge goal, but making the varsity is a possibility.”