It’s important to keep everyone loose, but Holiday is also fully aware of the fact that coach Terry Kelly is about to blow his whistle any minute, signaling the beginning of a grueling two-hour workout session. The senior forward takes it upon himself to begin stretching out his 6-foot-6 frame, and his teammates follow suit. Before you know it, a circle is formed around Holiday at midcourt, each player seemingly prepared to put forth his best effort. “Justin is the captain of this team for a reason,” Kelly said. Holiday, who has committed to the University of Washington, has been instrumental in helping lead the Vikings (30-1) into the national spotlight this season as they head into their Div. IV Southern California regional semifinal against Francis Parker of SanDiego (28-3) at 7 p.m. today at Crespi High in Encino. “These guys look up to Justin, they feed off of him,” Kelly said. “He’s a high-character kid who leads by example.” When it comes to production, few area players can match Holiday’s numbers. He’s shooting 61percent from the field and averaging 19.4 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.8 steals and 2.4blocks per game. He opened the season totaling double digits in points and rebounds in seven of the first nine games. He even recorded a triple-double in late January against Calvary Chapel of Downey, finishing with 18points, 10 rebounds and 10steals in an 89-28 victory. Basketball practice is about to begin at Campbell Hall High of North Hollywood, and Justin Holiday is relaxed as can be, standing underneath the basket and telling a joke to Max Rose and Deuce Johnson while flashing his infectious smile. Joseph Finnerty and Keegan Hornbuckle gravitate towards Holiday seconds later, joining in on the fun, arriving just in time to catch the punchline before some good ol’ fashioned, contagious laughter ensues. “This is my senior year, and I feel like I’m in control of what’s going on,” Holiday said. “I’m comfortable. I know what the coaches want and expect from me. I know what we need to do to be successful.” Having a solid supporting cast has certainly helped. His brother, Jrue, leads the team in scoring, averaging 23.5 points per game, Robert Ford has emerged as a heady floor leader and Dallas Rutherford, Finnerty and Hornbuckle have provided steady contributions. “Justin always brings his `A’ game,” Jrue Holiday said. “He runs things. This is his team and he makes everyone around him better.” Barring an improbable upset, the Vikings, ranked No. 4 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No.19 in the nation by USA Today, are the odds-on favorite to win the regional final March 17 at Pauley Pavilion. Beyond that, the state title game looms March 23 at Arco Arena in Sacramento, and Holiday would like nothing more than to win another ring after earning his first with the 2004-05 Vikings’ team that finished undefeated (32-0) en route to a Div. IV championship. “Justin has been the unsung hero this season and he’s due for a big performance in a big game,” said Dinos Trigonis, editor of fullctpress.net. Holiday came into own as a junior, averaging 20.1 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game to finish as one of three players in the region to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. That type of production attracted the interest from several Division I college programs. He turned down offers from USC, Arizona State, SMU and Texas Tech before committing to play for Lorenzo Romar and the Huskies after a recruiting trip in late September. “Washington is a good fit for Justin,” his father, Shawn, said. “Lorenzo showed some genuine interest in him and I think that made the decision easy.” College is the last thing on his mind, though. Holiday is focused on the task at hand, which is extending his high school career, along with those of fellow seniors Ford, Finnerty and Graham Bousley, for another couple of weeks. “He’s willing to do whatever it takes for this team to win,” Kelly said. “What you see is what you get with Justin. There’s nothing fake about him. He doesn’t have a personal agenda. He has a tremendous work ethic, and it doesn’t matter if it’s during practice or a game. “No one gets after it more than Justin. There’s a direct correlation between him and our success this season.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!