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OTTAWA — When Catie Carlson’s older sisters were playing for the Ottawa girls basketball team, she went to nearly all of their games with her parents.
“We’d always sit in the same spot every time — just above the bench toward the middle,” Carlson said.
Watching sisters Alyssa and Bree playing point guard for the Lady Pirates, Carlson decided she wanted to do the same.
“That’s what I wanted to be, too,” Carlson said. “I wanted to be like them.”
Now she is.
Carlson is a three-year varsity player for Ottawa and has been the starting point guard the last two seasons.
“It’s honestly weird to think of,” Carlson said about following her sisters as Ottawa’s point guard. “When I was little I always wanted to be that. Now I’m actually here. It’s just weird. It’s crazy to think about how fast that happened. It’s almost like I grew up in Kingman Gym. I went to camps there, I watched all the games there and now it’s me playing there.”
It is the ninth consecutive season a Carlson has been a guard for the Lady Pirates.
“It’s been special because they’re all just the absolute nicest kids in the world,” Ottawa coach Mike Cooper said about having the Carlsons for nine straight years. “They get good grades. They’re never in trouble at school. That comes from their mom and dad. They are really good people and they taught them what’s important in life. It’s definitely made my job easier the last nine years.”
Cooper’s job has been easier because all three Carlsons have been strong ball handlers and defenders.
The sisters learned those skills from their father Jim, who coached boys basketball at Earlville from 1994-99.
Growing up, Catie Carlson and her sisters regularly went to the YMCA with their father to work on their basketball skills, and they spent summers tagging along with Jim to Earlville to play in the gym while he worked.
Catie Carlson also recalls her father making her and her sister perfect their dribbling in the basement — dribbling 100 times with each hand.
“They are all about the same, yet all a little different,” Cooper said about the Carlson sisters’ style of play. “The one consistent thing is they’ve all been really good defenders. They’ve all been really quick, athletic kids. Catie’s probably a little shiftier than the others, Alyssa is maybe a little faster and Bree’s kind of right in the middle there. They’ve all been outstanding players.”
Catie Carlson has used the shiftiness, ball handling and defense to bring a steadying presence to the Lady Pirates.
She averages an area-best 4.6 assists per game along with 3.8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
“Catie brings the ability to control a game out front,” Cooper said. “She rarely turns the ball over. She has the ability to get the ball from one end to the other in a hurry. She has great vision and she’s very good about getting everybody on the team involved.”
Catie Carlson has helped the Lady Pirates to a 61-15 record and two regional championships to keep the winning Carlson tradition alive.
During the nine years Carlsons have been on the roster, the Lady Pirates are 175-65 with five regional championships and three conference titles.
“It’ll definitely be different,” Cooper said about not having a Carlson on the roster next year. “I’ve penciled in a Carlson starting for nine years. It’s been a special family and we’ve won a lot of games during those nine years.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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