Oral Roberts University’s big man Damen Bell-Holter will be playing in this year’s Thanksgiving week 2012 Great Alaska Shootout basketball tournament at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena Nov. 24-29.
Bell-Holter played at 2A Yakutat for a year before transferring to 3A Mt. Edgecumbe as a sophomore and helping the Braves take third place at the 2006 state tournament while earning all-state tournament team selection along with teammate Zach Klein. Klein played the year before at 2A Bristol Bay and was an all-tournament selection in that venue. Bell-Holter played his junior and senior season at Ketchikan but never made the state venue in 4A due to Juneau-Douglas’ Will Egolf, Bryan Combs, Clae Baker and Eric Gross standing in his way. Bell-Holter averaged 28 points and 17 rebounds his senior high school season. He spent another season at a prep school in New Hampton, N.H., where he improved his grades and stock to become a D-I player. He is 6-foot-9, 245-pounds and averaged 7.9 points and 5.8 rebounds as a junior for Oral Roberts last season.
The 2012 Shootout men’s field features seven Division I teams. Only Belmont (27-8 last season) made this year’s NCAA tournament, losing to Georgetown in the second round. Oral Roberts (27-7) narrowly missed an at-large bid to the tournament and lost in the first round of the NIT.
Other men’s teams in the tourney will include Loyola Marymount (21-13), UC-Riverside (14-17), Charlotte (13-17), Northeastern (14-17) and Texas State (13-17).
The women’s tournament will feature post season finalists UAA (30-5) who lost in the Division II national quarterfinals; Prairie View A&M (17-16) who lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament; and Utah State (21-10) who lost in the first round of the NIT. A fourth and final team will be announced at a later date.
Former Wasilla High School star Jenna Johnson (5-foot-10 guard) will be a senior on the Utah State team. Johnson averaged 5.8 points and 3.2 rebounds and was third in steals for the Aggies. Johnson helped Wasilla take the state championship as a sophomore in 2007 and was 4A state player of the year as a senior in 2009 when she averaged 20 points, eight assists and seven steals. In 2007 Wasilla defeated JDHS and Talisa Rhea, Hannah Buck, Andrea Doerflinger, Kayla Harrison and company 51-48. In 2006 JDHS beat Wasilla in the 3rd & 5th place state tourney game 41-39. Rhea and Johnson (a freshman) both made the all-tourney team, as did Crimson Bears guard Lexi Garvey. In 2008 Wasilla beat JDHS in the opening game of the state tourney 57-47. Wasilla went on to finish third and the Crimson Bears fourth. Johnson (a junior) was all-tournament along with Juneau’s Nicole Fenumiai.
In 2009 Wasilla defeated Ketchikan in the 3rd & 5th place game 60-54. Johnson was all-tournament along with Kayhi’s Laci Effenberger and Crystal Blair.