Rhoten, Panthers trying to get in tune

February 15, 1994|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

Casey and the Case-ettes.

It has a nice ring to it and best describes the North Carroll girls basketball team at times.

But Panthers coach Greg Knill isn't thrilled with that tag on his team.

"We're not just Casey [Rhoten] and the Case-ettes," said the coach of the senior scoring and rebounding star. "When Casey comes down the court with the ball, she sees the floor very well, knows where people should be and is ready to get the ball to the person who has the best chance of scoring."

Rhoten is a natural athlete who can do everything on the basketball floor. She is averaging 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds for the young and struggling Panthers (4-10).

She has been forced to adjust to losing this season after being a major part of two Carroll County championship teams that went to the 2A regional final in consecutive years, losing both times to powerful Middletown.

It hasn't been easy.

"Being the only senior on the team, I have to be patient with everyone," said Rhoten. "Most of us have never played together before and don't know what to expect from each other. The young girls on the team are all good athletes and we're pulling together, but we're just missing too much practice time because of the bad weather. And now we have all these games to make up and no days to practice."

With only eight games left, the Panthers probably need a stretch run of 7-1 to make the regionals this season.

It doesn't look very promising and Rhoten has basically resigned herself to helping the Panthers finish as strong as possible and then heading off to Pfeiffer College in North Carolina next season to play collegiate basketball.

"Hopefully I can help these girls gain some confidence for next season if we don't make the playoffs," said the 5-foot-8 forward who crashes the boards with the best of them in Carroll County.

Rebounding has become an art for Rhoten and she loves every minute of it.

"I'm always looking to box out and watching where the ball comes from on the shots," she said. "If the ball comes from the left side, I go to the right because that's where the ball usually comes."

The honorable mention All-Carroll County choice last season rates rebounding and playing defense as her first two loves in the game.

Rhoten was the perfect complementary player last season to the high-scoring Michele Jeffery and standout point guard Ashlee Douglas, both first-team All-County selections.

But this season Rhoten has to score more often to keep North Carroll in games.

Does she feel the pressure?

"No, not really," said Rhoten. "Except when we're losing by a few points and I get the rebound and come up the floor and know we need to score a basket. The rest of the time, I just do the best I can."

Knill said his talented forward often gives away four to five inches to opposing inside players on top teams.

"Casey has to outsmart them and she does it a lot," he said. "She's an active inside player and a wonderful athlete, rebounder and competitor. Casey just plays her game and the other players look up to her. She hasn't had the best of luck on her shots this season."

Rhoten downplays the height disadvantage.

"Sure, most teams have taller players than I am but it's more how well you play than how tall you are," she said. "Especially in Carroll County. If you use your quickness and athletic ability in this county, you're going to be successful no matter how tall you are."

According to Knill, some of his young players have lost confidence during a rough January after a 3-3 start.

But the Case-ettes still have Casey to turn to.

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