Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Pound for pound, Braiden Collins may be the SVC’s toughest player — to guard, to stop, to minimize her efforts … you name it.
Huntington’s 5-foot-8 senior guard has been nothing short of electric since bursting onto the league’s girls hoops scene. Her ability to clog up passing lanes and turn defense into offense is uncanny and if you’re trying to run with her, well, good luck.
Currently, Collins leads the SVC in scoring at 23.8 points per game alongside averages of 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 6.1 steals. Those efforts have rocketed Huntington to an 11-5 record.
She also stands at 1,444 career points — 18th on the league’s all-time scoring list.
As her senior season starts to wind down, I had the chance to sit down with Collins and ask about possibly becoming Huntington’s all-time leading scorer, her faith, the way she’s ushering in freshman Allison Basye to the SVC and much, much more.
Question: 1,444 career points. 133 to go until you’re the school’s all-time leading scorer. What does that make you feel like and how focused are you on that?
Collins: I’m very focused on it. It’s always been a dream of mine to make history at Huntington. I can remember watching Lydia Bridenbaugh play and I’ve always looked up to her. So to be up with her on scoring is such a huge honor. God has given me such a huge opportunity and I want to do the best that I possibly can and give him all the glory.
Q: Your faith has always been a strength of yours. What’s your favorite bible verse and why?
BC: I give everything to God in everything I do. My go-to saying, ‘Let go and let God.’ I actually have that saying embroidered on the inside of my letterman [jacket]. I actually have two favorite bible verses. The first on is Joshua 1:9, which says, ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’ My second one is Philippians 4:13, which says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ These are my favorite because they remind me that I am never alone and that I can do anything as long as God is in it.
Q: You’re getting the chance to groom one of the league’s next big-time stars in teammate Allison Basye. What’s that like and what have you learned from her? What lesson do you hope to teach her that sticks?
BC: Allison and I actually get along really well. When she gets worked up, I try to keep her calm throughout the game. If I could leave any piece of advice for her, it would be to enjoy it while it’s here, to have fun with it, and that it will all be over before you know it. I want her to remember to always be the leader for her teammates, to set the example, and always be the one to build others up. Always remember that we are a team. I like to think being Huntsmen makes us extra special and we can achieve anything we set our minds to.
Q: Looking back at your entire career, is there one performance or game that sticks out above the rest?
BC: My favorite game is the Southeastern game from last season. We almost came out on top and our entire team gave everything they had. The atmosphere felt unreal, the energy was at an all-time high and it was one of those games that you wait your entire career for. I feel like it was personally one of my best performances against a team that no one thought we stood a chance against. We left an impression and showed everyone the kind of team that we are.
Q: When you came into the league, there were doubters because of your size. You’ve obviously proven every one of those doubters wrong. But did that ever cross your mind or fuel your fire?
BC: Absolutely. Knowing that there are people who thought I couldn’t do it made me want to succeed even more. Honestly though, I try not to even let what others think get to me because I know I have God and I can take on any battle set before me. I don’t worry about my size. I say a prayer and get out there and just do my best.
Q: What’s the ceiling for this year’s team? How far can you go?
BC: I think we can cut down some nets this year. The sky is the limit. We just have to show up to play, play as a team and give it our all. We have so much talent and heart. I love this group of girls. I know we can do anything we set our minds to.