Prince of Peace senior Patrick Mulholland is a phenomenal basketball player. You've seen him shoot, but have you seen his defense?
Mulholland specializes in the defensive side of things. The senior isn't especially tall but is speedy. His style is also flashy: his hands and his feet make his defense intimidating. But that is all intentional.
"I try to almost make the player feel uncomfortable," Mulholland said. "Try to wear him out. You want to pressure them so they get tired, so when they come into the front court they're tired and sloppy with the ball. That's where you get cheap steals and touches."
It's helped him lead the team with 33 steals which he then translates on the offensive side of things.
"Defense comes number one," Mulholland said. "You know what they say, defense wins championships and I feel like if defense isn't your number one you're going to struggle."
That's not to say he's not helpful other places on the floor. He's the second leading scorer on the team, putting up higher points in the last few games. His specialty? The long three.
He's also the third leading rebounder, his physicality coming in hand.
He's definitely had influence throughout his life. His older brother Sean Mulholland graduated in 2010, and Patrick spent his elementary school days watching him play.
"The way he influences me is through his knowledge of the game," Patrick said. "Because he's the older brother and played four years he's been able to teach me some moves and ways to score."
However, there are some stark differences. Patrick has also grown to realize that and has evolved as a player in a different way.
"I have really tried to go on my own path," Mulholland said. "We're two completely different players. He's a post up guy, I'm a shooter. I play pointguard defense, he played low post. We're so different, but our mentality is the same."
He also watched 2013 graduate Megan Mulholland play on the girls' side of things. The biggest thing he took away from Megan is how to be a good teammate.
He certainly is. On a varsity team with a lot of emotion, Mulholland serves as a cool head.
"I just tell my teammates to keep they're head in it," Mulholland said. "It's the next play mentality. If we can pull through it, then we'll be alright."
The improved play of the Irish has helped them enter the AP Iowa state rankings for the first time this year, slipping to No. 8 past both Calamus-Wheatland and Easton Valley.
According to Mulholland, that's not something they've paid any attention to.
"We heard that Cal-Wheat was ranked and that motivated us a little," Mulholland said. "If we're ranked we're ranked, but they don't matter when it comes time for districts."
They have wins over both their 1A foes under their belt, but still have to face both yet again before the postseason starts. What Mulholland wants to see them improve on in that time is where he excels: the defense.
"I hope we all improve defensively so we don't give up those 50 pointers, 60 pointers. We want to hold teams when it comes postseason time to 40 or less. I'd be happy winning a game 36-30, a win is a win."
Defense is definitely a key part to the way the Prince of Peace varsity team operates, and it's working. The team is 12-1, their only loss coming on Dec. 4 to Class 2A No. 1 North Linn. They're rolling towards the finish line with Mulholland, and an experience group of seniors, leading them.
"The chemistry is really flowing right now, and I think we can finish strong," Mulholland said. "We're really clicking. We've been passing really well, sharing, and when guys get the ball in their hands and score we turn it into better defense."