Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 | 1 a.m.
Basic senior James Holmes always had size in his favor.
The 6-foot-6 center had the height advantage even as a freshman, when he first made an appearance on the Wolves' varsity basketball team.
But not long after taking the starting reigns in 2006, Holmes learned there was more to the position than being tall.
"When I first started playing varsity, everyone tried to take advantage of me," Holmes said. "I was young and I wasn't as strong or physical. I was just tall. In the summer I worked on that and I spent a lot of time in the weight room."
Holmes has since bulked up, gained experience and has become one of the most important players in Basic's lineup.
He leads the Wolves in scoring, averaging 12.5 points a game, and rebounds, with about seven a game. He also provides much-needed leadership, Basic coach Steve Bentz said.
"He was really big for us in the summer," Bentz said. "When it was voluntary, he was here every day and was always the last one to leave. He helped get kids to show up."
Holmes showed he knew how to use his size in the season opener at Chaparral on Dec. 2. Basic lost 57-54 in overtime but Holmes put up a career-high 19 points and was comfortable in his new role as the team's primary scorer.
The center said he still feels most comfortable going to the hoop, but Bentz has noticed Holmes' jumper becoming a bigger weapon.
"We would like to play him on the outside sometimes if we can," Bentz said. "He makes other players better. If he is playing well, everyone else usually is too."
Basic (6-5, 0-3 league) lost 73-69 to Del Sol on Jan. 9, a game in which Holmes put up 12 points, and has yet to win a league game.
The Wolves will need to pull off upsets of teams like Foothill and Green Valley highs, if they want to make the playoffs for the first time in Holmes' career.
Their next test will be at Southeast Career and Technical Academy on Jan. 20.
"We're better than we have been in years past but we need to find a way to protect the ball," Holmes said.
Playing through losing seasons has been tough, Holmes said, but he has enjoyed the ride. Holmes said his love for basketball is unconditional and hopes to continue playing in college.
"Basketball has made me a better person," he said. "If I wasn't playing I would be on the streets getting in trouble."
Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or email@example.com.