It’s not often that the top ranked player in the region is an eighth-grader, but Halle Collins is not a typical eighth-grade basketball player.
Collins burst onto the scene of 13th Region basketball last season, as a seventh-grader, when she helped the North Laurel Lady Jaguars to a runner-up finish in the regional tournament, where they lost to South Laurel in a close contest.
Entering her second year of varsity ball, Collins has the entire region watching her — and dreading playing her — over the next five years. Last year, she averaged 14.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. Those numbers will only improve as she takes over more of a leading role this year.
Since COVID-19 shut down everything in the spring, Collins has gone to work on her game. She started playing in the Elite Youth Basketball League against girls who were older than her. Collins said that experience has really helped her take her game to the next level.
“My game is something nobody can handle. I am a player that can do anything. My main aspect in the game is scoring and rebounding. In my off time, I got better at handling and driving,” said Collins. “Over quarantine, I played EYBL, and it changed me as a player. I played girls bigger, stronger, faster, and older than me, and that by itself made me so much better.”
Being a top-ranked player in the region is something that Collins has worked for since she first started playing basketball, but she knows that not everyone is going to agree. In a region that has been filled with talent, especially with two division one players right across town at South Laurel last year, Collins could be underestimated by some. If that’s the case, she is set out to prove them wrong this season.
“Being ranked No. 1 in the region has lots of pressure. That pressure makes me want to show people that I am the number one player in the region,” said Collins. “It is a big accomplishment and I’m definitely going to prove it. I have a lot of people that doubt me and to make them wrong is something I would love to do.”
Collins is able to have confidence in her abilities on the court because of the time that she puts into becoming a better player. Through her offseason workouts, to her commitment to playing travel basketball, Collins has become a highly touted player.
But it’s not just her abilities that she believes in. She thinks this is going to be the year that North Laurel finally gets over the hump and wins a regional championship.
“The team we have will be faster, stronger, and overall, a better team compared to the other teams in the region,” Collins said. “To win the region, we will need to work hard every day to get better. We also need to work as a team and have lots of confidence. There is no doubt in my mind that we will be the region champs this year. We all just have to step up and play as the team we know we can be and we will go far.”
Getting her team to the next level is something that Collins takes personally. Despite her youth, she speaks like a player who has a few years of varsity experience under her belt. Because of her talent, players around her listen and want to play better, and she makes the others around her better.
Collins said her ability to lead the team as a freshman comes down to her basketball know-how. She wants to be the type of player that is an extension of her head coach on the floor, helping put her team in the best position to win every time they’re out on the court.
“I have to step up and be a leader on my team. I am one of the youngest on the team, but when it comes to basketball I have a very strong IQ,” said Collins. “My IQ makes me and other girls better. Being a leader has lots of roles, but it has huge accomplishments at the end of the day. Being a leader also becomes being a role model. Being looked up to is one of the best feelings ever, and I will do everything to always keep that feeling.”