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Caleb Turrentine / The Herald Holtville’s Richie Hicks looks to make a pass while being guarded by Elmore County’s Zion Reed.

Throughout Holtville’s rivalry game against Elmore County last Tuesday, the Bulldog fans had plenty to cheer about as the hosts made a few big plays to bring the crowd to its feet. Richie Hicks found himself in the middle of most of those moments, bringing energy to his teammates as the Bulldogs finished of the 46-39 victory to open play in Class 4A Area 5.

“That’s very important to us,” Hicks said. “It’s awesome to get a great start and get the team confident going into the rest of the season. We’re blessed and happy to have this opportunity.”

Hicks did not lead Holtville in many statistical categories but he was at the heart of the team’s success throughout the night.

His lone basket came at the end of the first half to put the Bulldogs up by nine points at the break, helping the home team take momentum into the second half. Hicks was the final player to get on the score sheet as all nine players to touch the court scored in the first half for Holtville.

“It’s amazing to be a part of,” Hicks said. “Everyone is rooting each other on and everyone is for everyone else. It’s a great team.”

Hicks is no stranger to getting points on the board as he averages 7.8 points per game, including four games in double figures this season. However, he took on a different role against Elmore County.

While he does not officially play a guard position, Hicks is often looked at as one of the team’s best passers and ball handlers. He initiated the offense several times against the Panthers and finished with four assists, including a couple of no-look passes which got big reactions from the crowd.

“He’s always working on his craft,” Holtville coach Michael Collins said. “He’s not just out here bombing up threes, he’s working on his technical things. You may call them flashy passes but that’s the kind of stuff he works on over and over and over again.”

Hicks is averaging 2.9 assists per game and he has recorded multiple assists in 11 of 13 games this season.

“I love to pass the ball,” Hicks said. “The role changes every night so whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll make it work. You feel the eruption from the crowd and you get so excited. Being able to feed your teammate and your friend, that’s a great feeling.”

To go with his two points and four assists against Elmore County, Hicks also recorded four rebounds, four steals and two blocks as he filled out the stat sheet without needing to score in the second half. Collins said Hicks was the reason other players got to rack up more stats and he was still the spark the Bulldogs needed to get the victory.

“Sometimes the stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story,” Collins said. “It’s about a lot of other stuff and maybe the things you do to help another guy get stats. Richie is such a crucial part of this team and you’re going to continue seeing a lot of good things from him.”

Hicks made one final contribution to get the fans up as he got two big blocks midway through the fourth quarter to help slow down Elmore County’s late rally.

“We played defense and decided to work together,” Collins said. “It takes each and every guy to work together to be a united front. That’s our game and we played that way (Tuesday).”

With less than a month guaranteed remaining this season, Holtville will be relying on Hicks to continue to provide those big plays to help the Bulldogs make a push in the postseason. However, Collins said no matter when the season finishes, Hicks will continue to have an impact on his teammates and those around him.

“Richie’s character on the court and around the school makes him stand out,” Collins said. “He’s all about his teammates and he’s going to throw all the credit on them.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.