The common saying is senior years fly by. But for Cory Hollinger, that was the case for his junior campaign on the football field and basketball court.
“Basketball is usually a sport that drags on, it’s just a sport with a long season,” Cross County’s rising junior said. “But this year it flew by. Everyone tells me that your senior year flies by, but my junior year flew by. It was an absolute blast and was a lot of fun.”
Even though Cross County had a record of 21-4, the season ended much sooner than everyone in Stromsburg wanted. The Cougars were knocked off in their subdistrict final by Twin River.
“We had the best record in Cross County history and this and that, but we accomplished none of our goals,” Hollinger said. “We didn’t even win the CRC (Crossroads Conference tournament), we didn’t win districts. I’ll take some of the blame for that, and I just want everyone to know that next year we’ll get it done.”
This season was the first where Hollinger felt he needed to take on more of a leadership role. Cael Lundstrom was that guy when Hollinger was a sophomore. But with Lundstrom graduated, he knew he needed to be “the guy” and played like it. He even surpassed 1,000 career points in a win over Friend on Feb. 19.
Hollinger nearly averaged a double-double at 17 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting 37 percent (14 of 38) from 3-point range despite being the main focus of defenses every night. There’s no doubt he can ball on the court, but his love right now is football, and Cross County is coming off back-to-back seasons where it’s made the Class D-1 semifinals and Hollinger is a key piece.
Hollinger is a strong blocker at tight end for head coach Hayden DeLano’s run-heavy single-wing offense. He also caught eight passes for 161 yards and six touchdowns, and used his length to haul in the ball over smaller defenders on almost every one of them. Hollinger racked up 84 tackles and five sacks at defensive end.
Hollinger doesn’t have any football offers yet, but he also hasn’t been able to travel to see schools, and vice versa. He hopes to take visits this summer if the NCAA’s dead period is lifted. North Dakota State is one of the schools at the top of his list.
“I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls from North Dakota State — they’re the big one right now,” Hollinger said. “Some other schools up north like South Dakota and South Dakota State have sent some texts. I definitely want to visit Fargo, and I might visit Nebraska — I’ve been talking with Kenny Wilhite a bit.”
Hollinger is keeping his options open, and wants to figure out what he wants to study in college, too, which would make an impact with the decision. He’s been making a game plan for the summer, and one goal is to compete at the Warren Academy in Omaha and attend camps.
“One of my main focuses is to put on weight, lift and get bigger,” Hollinger said. The 6-foot-6 athlete has room to grow on his frame. He lost about 10 pounds from the football season while playing basketball. Since his season ended last Thursday he’s already back up to 215.