Taking her game to the next level Girls basketball: With a keen understanding of the game and a strong work ethic, Iowa-bound guard Cara Consuegra has led New Market's Linganore High to a 44-game winning streak.

February 16, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The first time Linganore girls basketball coach Brian Matthews saw Cara Consuegra play ball, she was a fourth-grader in the middle of a pick-up game against older players -- boys and girls, some in the ninth grade.

"She scored a layup, went back downcourt and blocked a shot, got the rebound and got back up the court for another layup. I saw that and said, 'That girl's going to be a player.' That's what always stands out," he said.

Matthews has since watched his 5-8 senior guard score 1,954 points, grab 910 rebounds, dish out 485 assists and come up with 495 steals so far in her illustrious four-year varsity career.

In the last two seasons, she has led the New Market school, located a little east of Frederick off Route 75, to a current string of 44 straight wins -- including a Class 2A state title in an undefeated season a year ago.

Ask anyone who has seen Consuegra play what it is that makes her special and you'll often hear the same response.

"Her desire. Her wanting to be a better basketball player," said Westminster coach Bernie Koontz, whose Owls play Linganore twice every year in the Central Maryland Conference. "Her work ethic and commitment to the game is what separates her from the others."

A perfect example came in a 91-51 win against Koontz' No. 16 Owls on Feb. 4, a day after the Lancers (19-0) took over the No. 1 ranking in the state. She celebrated with a career-high 38 points and piled up more big numbers in all the other categories, but appeared most excited when she trapped a Westminster guard in a corner to get a five-second call.

"The main thing is hard work and that's the difference between the great players and good players. Some players don't reach their full potential because they don't put in the time and effort," Consuegra said. "I'm always in the weight room or in the gym and no one has to tell me to do it. I just want to do it to make myself a better basketball player."

That's why Consuegra spent hour after hour at the Frederick YMCA working on driving the lane, specifically using her left hand. And that's why she's now spending extra time on her outside jumper: "250 a day and then I work on my three-pointers -- 100 or 150 of those," she said.

Consuegra received letters from more than 100 NCAA Division I schools before narrowing her list down to five -- Iowa, Auburn, Maryland, Kentucky and Virginia. She signed with Iowa in November.

"I visited all five of them and just fell in love with Iowa and the people there. It felt comfortable, the right place for me," she said. "It was very important to get it out of the way. There's a lot of pressure in the recruiting process and now I can relax, have fun my senior season and not have to worry about who I have to try and impress."

With her great understanding of the game, relentless defense, ability to create off the dribble for herself -- left hand or right -- and for her teammates, Consuegra has indeed impressed. This season, she's averaging 25.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, eight assists and 8.5 steals a game. A triple double is more the norm than a rarity.

Iowa second-year coach Angie Lee can't wait for her prized recruit to get there.

The Lady Hawkeyes came into the season ranked sixth in the country in the AP poll, but injuries have slowed them and they're now 11-10 and in the "also receiving votes" category. There was a void left at the point guard spot this season after Karen Clayton graduated and her backup transferred.

There's a good chance the 17-year-old Consuegra, who plans to major in communication or sports marketing, will be able to make immediate impact next season.

"She can do it all," Lee said. "She's somebody who is going to be able to distribute on the break and make decisions, a lot of decisions. She's a great point guard and I look forward to seeing what she's going to do for her four years here."

Along with her parents and older brother Justin, one of Consuegra's biggest influences was former Linganore standout point guard Carrie Jenkins, who graduated in 1993 and previously held a number of the school records Consuegra now owns.

"When I was in the eighth grade, she started taking me to the YMCA," Consuegra said. "She was my idol and played a big part in helping me develop my game."

Now, it's Consuegra's turn to be looked up to.

"[Urbana High sophomore] Kelly Sadtler said in the newspaper that Cara was her idol and that was who she wanted to be like," Matthews said.

"If you come watch Cara play and want to play basketball yourself, it's hard not to want her as a role model."

Pub Date: 2/16/97

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