By Joey McWilliams - Oklahoma Sports Blog
New Orleans. Chicago. Cincinnati. Tucson.
What comes next?
It’s unlikely anyone might have filled in the blank with Langston, but that is the latest stop in Lynette Holmes’ journey.
The junior has found a home in the small town in north central Oklahoma and is making the most of it.
She is a starter for the Lady Lions and her performance on the court has been getting better as the season has progressed.
Holmes, the NAIA’s leading scorer (27.8 ppg), has been tabbed the Player of the Week in the Red River Athletic Conference for the second consecutive week. The honor comes after an incredible three-game stretch in which she averaged 39.0 points and put up 50 against the No. 10 team in the country.
Hitting the half-a-hundred mark in a game seemed to be as much a surprise to Holmes as anyone.
“Honestly, it came out of nowhere,” Holmes said. ”Me, coach and some of my teammates were unaware that I had that much. We were so in tune in the game and in doing our game plan that we didn’t even know.”
The blowout win over a top-ranked opponent, part of what has become a six-game winning streak, was the important thing for Holmes on that night. But she did enjoy scoring, too.
“I didn’t play for it,” Holmes said. ”We were playing for each other.
“It took away from even thinking about points, we were having so much fun doing what we do best. I had no idea.
“But it was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.”
The scoring outburst may have come out of nowhere, but it showed up in the ‘middle of nowhere.’ Langston is a town with a population of just more than 1,700, a far cry from any of the cities listed at the outset.
Originally from New Orleans, Holmes’ family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina and she relocated to Chicago in junior high. She found a place on the court and played four years for the Bogan Bengals.
A 6-foot-1 forward, her skills paved the way for her to have many choices as to where to play at the next level. She was ranked No. 83 in the Class of 2010, according to ESPNU/Hoopsgurlz. She even did a cover shoot for ESPN’s Rise magazine.
Her choice was to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati and to play for coach Kevin McGuff. The team went 29-3 that season, but McGuff left the program to go to Washington.
Disappointed, Holmes stayed at Xavier for another season, but things didn’t work out and she chose to depart for Arizona following her sophomore year.
Abiding by the NCAA guidelines, Holmes sat out the 2012-2013 campaign for the Wildcats, transferring from one Division I school to another. But she chose to make another move. And she knew she couldn’t stand to sit out another season.
Holmes wanted to be on the court soon, so she sent emails to a number of schools. Langston responded.
“(Langston assistant) Coach (Natasha) Doh reached out to me,” Holmes said.
“And I was so ready to be done and to be like, ‘This is my new school. This is where I’m going to be.’ Talking to Coach Doh and with her explaining the program and everything to me I thought this would be a great fit for me.
“And it has been.”
Langston coach David Johnson would agree.
“It’s great to have her here,” Johnson said. ”She had grown as a person and as a player. That’s a God-given gift.
“Coach Doh reached out to her and got this commitment to her coming. Thank God that everything worked out for her.”
This season, Johnson has watched his star player grow in many facets.
“On the court, she’s a leader,” Johnson said. ”She can put the ball on the court and she can shoot the trey. She’s an all-around player.
“Off the court, she’s really matured. It’s definitely been a blessing.”
Johnson’s team is on the rise late in the year, as it prepares for a potential postseason run. However, with opponents knowing the point production Holmes often puts up, he doesn’t feel as though she has a target on her back or has to carry the team.
“It’s not really a target, because we have another big player in the post with Alex,” Johnson said. ”That has opened up some things for Lynette, too.”
Fellow senior Alex Adekunle is holding her own as one the top 25 in the country in scoring, as well, recording 17.8 points each night herself.
“They decide to double-team her, we’ll pound the inside,” Johnson said. ”Then they decide they can’t stop her, now they’ve got to play one-on-one. And for right now, I haven’t seen anyone stop her in a one-on-one situation.”
The big cities from which Holmes has come really have no comparison to the life she is experiencing now.
“It’s country out here,” Holmes said.
“Langston is like in the middle of nowhere. It’s kind of secluded. You can still go out and do whatever you want to do, like Wal-Mart or to go get something to eat, but everything is 15-20 minutes away from the school.”
But she is enjoying the difference.
“It’s a great environment. At those big universities, you can tend to get lost, with the school being so big. You really don’t know what really is out there to get involved with.
“With Langston, you seize every opportunity. Right now, some of my teammates are doing pageants and Greek life and so much stuff. You get to have that fun part of college, which you’re going to get anywhere.
“But I’m not lost here. It’s hard to get lost here.”
Holmes missed a couple of games in January, due to a sprained MCL and knee contusion, but has come back to the court with a vengeance. She didn’t like not being on the court.
“I’ve always been a kid to play with pain. I’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt, I’m just saying that it doesn’t hurt enough to stop me from playing.
“I missed two games and I didn’t want to miss them, of course. But I had to do what I had to do to make sure I could be OK when we start playing those better teams down the line in the season.”
And big games await this week for the Lady Lions.
Langston starts a three-game road swing Tuesday night in Muskogee against in-state rival Bacone. The Lady Lions travel to LSU-Shreveport and Wiley College (Marshall, Texas) for match-ups with top teams in the RRAC on Friday and Saturday.
The Red River Athletic Conference tournament is set for Mar. 7-10.Sidebar-Quote-140218
As Holmes and her teammates wind down the regular season, she said she is having a good time with the Langston experience.
“You get to have fun here. And I enjoy it.”
It’s a trek that has wound around through some of the country’s largest cities to one of this state’s smaller colleges. That type of journey might cause some to think she got lost.
From New Orleans to Langston directly is 747 miles. The route Holmes went took her 3,999.
But said she is happy where she is.
And she is definitely not lost.