Ray Brewer / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports editors Ray Brewer and Case Keefer run through the local high school basketball scene as the regular season gets into full swing.
Rancho High senior guard Justin Holiday scored 32 points this week against Valley. In a tournament last week, he scored 28 points in one game and 30 in another.
That, he says, isn’t his most impressive performance of the year. When grades were last issued, Holiday says he had a "B" average, the best results of his four years in high school.
“I’m finally focused on doing what I have to do (to be successful) on the floor and in the classroom,” says the 6-foot-3 Holiday. “I’m more worried about doing well in the classroom than on the floor.”
Holiday is the Sun’s Wingstop Player of the Week, making the most of his final season in high school. Actually, it is his only season.
Holiday has been ineligible the past three seasons because he wasn’t a good student and often caused trouble in the classroom, he said. He briefly played on the AAU circuit during the offseason, but for the most part, had no formal coaching until landing at Rancho in October. He previously attended Valley and Clark.
He’s raw in ability and has a lean build, but the potential is obvious.
“He jumps out of the gym, his ball-handling is pretty good and his leadership is good,” Rancho coach Ron Childress said. “He hasn’t been taught a lot of things, but his offense is full-born and 100 mph. When he buys into both ends of the court and if he does things the right way, he could play basketball a long time.”
With Holiday and guard Chrys Jackson leading the way, Childress feels Rancho can be one of the Sunrise Region’s surprise teams. They should be a playoff qualifier in the Northeast League after missing the postseason in 2016.
Jackson had 26 points against Valley and 42 last week against McQueen to combine with Holiday for one of the Las Vegas Valley’s highest scoring backcourts.
“He changed the face of this team,” Childress said of Holiday.
Holiday said that when he attended Clark, the three-time defending state champion, he became inspired by watching how the Chargers ran their program — everything from practice to games. When he got to Rancho, he knew it was either now or never.
“I didn’t want to waste any more time,” he said.
Childress, a veteran area coach, didn’t judge Holiday for his past mistakes and has taken great pride in giving him another opportunity. Winning games has always been secondary to getting back on track academically. Holiday isn’t a college qualifier and will have to attend junior college.
“I don’t know what efforts were made with him before. I really don’t understand how a kid with that much talent was overlooked,” Childress said. “I have been working with kids forever. We all make mistakes. Nobody's a saint or an angel. I talk to him all the time to let him know, 'I’m on your team. I am on your side. I want you to be successful.’”
Wingstop provides a gift card and shirt to the player of the week. You can nominate a player for next week’s honor on Twitter using #702hshoops.