In teammates she trusts: Meet the senior point guard that makes everything go for Pana

Bill Welt
State Journal-Register

PANA — Rachel Holthaus never halts.  

No matter the burden. 

The 5-foot-6 senior point guard certainly overcame a great deal of attrition en route to Pana’s thrilling 55-50 girls basketball victory over Lincoln at home on Tuesday.  

Holthaus never came off the floor despite Lincoln’s unflagging full-court press and a formidable defensive assignment, sophomore phenom Kloe Froebe.  

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NIMBLE DEFENDER

Froebe garnered 22 points for the Railsplitters, now ranked No. 7 in Class 3A. But Holthaus did her best to be as disruptive as possible. 

“She just has a great motor and she likes that (defensive) task,” Pana coach Brent McKinney said. “I’ve had the pleasure of watching her do that for three years now and I know what she can do, so I was looking forward to watching her do that.” 

Lincoln (17-4) previously defeated Pana 61-53 in November. The Panthers, 23-1 and ranked No. 4 in 2A, subsequently won 18 straight contests and turned all of their attention toward Froebe heading into the rematch. 

Rachel Holthaus

Froebe, only a sophomore with numerous NCAA Division I offers, reached 1,000 career points during the third quarter. 

“She’s obviously a good guard,” Holthaus said of Froebe. “She just scored 1,000 points, so being able to guard her — I love playing defense. That’s what my game is, so I love playing against her.” 

RELIABLE TEAMMATES

Holthaus makes up for her relatively short height with quickness. She’s additionally an experienced ball-handler with superlative court awareness. 

She can score to be sure but largely leaves that up to her trusty teammates. 

Senior Jillian Hamilton tallied 28 points and 11 rebounds in Tuesday’s nonconference win, including three treys in the second half. Junior guard Anna Beyers hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 57.2 seconds remaining and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. 

“I love my passing game, that’s how I play,” Holthaus said. “Jillian and I work great together. I love passing her the ball and I know she’s reliable.” 

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Holthaus added she was proud of Beyers and the rest of the team for sticking with it. Pana prevailed after nine lead changes and six ties.

“If I didn’t have them, my job would be 10 times harder,” Holthaus said. 

Holthaus converted a 3-pointer herself near the end of the second quarter and finished with seven points. 

“She just knows where to get the ball offensively,” McKinney said of Holthaus. “Sometimes she’ll pass up the shot she might take, but she hit a big 3 as well. She knows that we’ve got kids who can score and she gives it to them right when they need it to be able to finish and have a nice look. She did a fantastic, fantastic job.” 

CHEMISTRY WITH HISTORY

Holthaus, Hamilton, Beyers, senior guard/forward Ellie Kuhn and senior forward Kiley Ladage each played together at Sacred Heart prior to high school. They happened to fall to Froebe’s West Lincoln-Broadwell teams twice in the IESA state finals. 

Beyers said this group in particular is a “dream team.” 

“It’s just unbelievable,” Beyers said of her late 3. “I’m like, ‘Please let this go in.’ It was electrifying.” 

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Not unlike Hamilton, Holthaus also plays volleyball and soccer. She will ultimately play basketball at NCAA Division III Millikin University. 

“She keeps her cool, she gets the ball down the floor,” Hamilton said of Holthaus. “She’s the person that makes all of this happen. 

“That’s all we need in a point guard is to be able to read the defenders and give us the ball. It’s how we won this.” 

Holthaus picked up that stoicism over time.

“When I was younger, I kind of had a hot head, but I’ve learned to rely on my teammates a little more,” Holthaus said. “I can’t do it all by myself obviously, so my teammates are a huge part of my game.” 

Contact Bill Welt: bill.welt@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/BillWelt