Macy Holtz looks back at her old self and says, “What the heck?”

The Plainview-Elgin-Millville basketball star has come a ways. All she has to do is dial up the old Bulldogs game film when she was running around as a freshman and sophomore and already in a starting role.

Holtz likes the junior and senior version of herself much better. Indeed, this latest incarnation was good enough to land her as our 2021 Post Bulletin All-Area Player of the Year.

“The biggest change now is that I take better shots than I used to,” said Holtz, a dynamic 5-foot-8 senior guard who had her fingerprints on pretty much everything that went for well for P-E-M this season, averaging 24.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4 assists and a rare 5.4 steals per game.

The Bulldogs finished the season 15-4.

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“I look back on my old game (film) and I say to myself, ‘What were you doing?’ ” Holtz said. “I’ll say to myself, ‘Why were you shooting that?’ Plus, I take care of the basketball much better now and my passes got a lot better from my junior to my senior year.”

Despite some occasional lapses in judgement during her first couple of years as a P-E-M varsity starter, it was easy to see why the Bulldogs coaches wanted her out there. She had a bunch of stuff that can’t be taught, such as explosive quickness, strength, an ability to get past defenders, handle the ball, and be an absolute pest defensively with all of that athleticism.

She also had a lust for competition early on, something that drove her to the heights she reached this season.

The latter is in the blood. Older sister Chloe was a member of the 2016 P-E-M state championship team, then went on to have an outstanding track and field career at Division I University of South Dakota. The middle child of Amy and Bill Holtz, Barron, is a baseball pitcher at Division I North Dakota State.

So, there is loads of athleticism in the Holtz gene pool. There is also plenty of drive among them, something that was handed down to the youngest of Amy and Bill’s three children, Macy.

Paying her dues

Macy watched, learned and never shied away from “getting after it.” She paid close attention to her older siblings and then did what she was told.

“They always pushed me and wanted me to be the best that I could become,” Macy said earlier this season. “When I wanted to give up, they’d instead say, ‘No, you have to do this.’ I never resented them for that and I’d always do it.”

And now look at her. Holtz, also a standout soccer player and sprinter/hurdler in track, goes down as the most prolific player to ever wear a Bulldogs basketball uniform.

Holtz ranks first in school history in points scored (2,008), as well as first in steals, second in assists and fifth in rebounds. This season was her best, as she averaged a career-high 24.3 points per game and did it on 53% field-goal shooting.

A constant force

Winona Cotter coach Pat Bowlin and his teams had to deal with Holtz for four straight years, watching her continually take things up a notch. He knows how special she is.

“She can flat-out score,” Bowlin said. “At the end of a game, you think she had like 18 or 20 points. Then you look at the box score and she’s got 26. She’s a very efficient scorer and not a ball hog. And she gets enough layups off of steals to really (get big totals). Plus, I liked how she always kept her composure all while being a fierce competitor.”

It is that competitiveness, above all, that P-E-M coach Nick Matti appreciates most.

“Macy knows what it takes to win and then she has the ability to go do it,” Matti said. “I’ve seen what Macy has put into the game in the offseason. Even in the games where she is not playing like the best player on the floor, that (offseason work) has given her the confidence to be the best player in the end. There was never a doubt who I wanted to have the ball at the end of a game.”

Next basketball season, the beneficiary of all of that skill, work ethic and confidence will be Division II school Minnesota State Moorhead. Holtz verbally committed to the Dragons this past summer.

She’s looking forward to that, with all of the challenges and competition that will come with it. Still, there will be no forgetting her time at P-E-M. This year was particularly special, wrapping things up with a bunch of girls she’d spent a lifetime with.

“It was pretty emotional,” Holtz said. “I’ve never felt like that at the end of a season.”