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Because every team needs a soul

No matter what, Maryville senior Mariah Hollenkamp resolved to go all the way to the finish line. The Lady Rebels meet Blackman in a Class AAA semifinal tonight in Murfreesboro.

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

We got over to Maryville High School Thursday morning to see the Lady Rebels off to Murfreesboro. Mariah Hollenkamp was the reason why.

Maryville opened the BlueCross Girls State Basketball Championships with a strong showing later in the day, defeating Page, 57-39, in a Class AAA quarterfinal at MTSU’s Murphy Center.

The Lady Rebels (28-6) meet Murfreesboro’s Blackman (23-3) in the second of two Final Four pairings this evening.

Tipoff is 9:30 EST.

Locally, MyVLT Channel 8 has the broadcast.

Hollenkamp, a senior, didn’t get in the game on Thursday. She, like many of the players on the remaining teams, may not see action the rest of the way. She can deal with that. It was quitting she refused to ever allow to happen.

Hollenkamp was first a champion when her fifth-grade team at Coulter Grove won the 2013 Blount County championship. By her sophomore year at Maryville, minutes were already tough to come by. Current Carson-Newman sophomore Lindsay Taylor and Jazz Ervin were dominant post players the last five seasons.

When playing time didn’t come with any greater frequency as a junior last season, Hollenkamp resolved to finish it out. At the start of this her senior season last fall, she was diagnosed with Covid and forced to quarantine.

Even that wasn’t enough to make the 6-foot forward call it a day. By senior night, she was back to be introduced alongside the other four seniors as part of the starting five.

We went to Maryville Thursday morning to ask Hollenkammp, specifically, why she’d never walked away?

Here at BPR we’re big fans of the kids who just won’t quit, no matter what.

Hollenkamp’s answer to our question was one we’ll never forget. When it comes to instilling character, this kid’s parents, to use a baseball analogy, went yard — home run.

We won’t spoil it for you what she said. It’s in the video. If you have a child playing sports in Blount County, and even if you don’t, we highly recommend you give it a look and listen.

Bravo, Mariah.

Well done.

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