Summer Jam: Katelyn Long
Summer Jam is a six-week series that will profile a different Hub Territory high school basketball player every week. The series will focus on returning players that are looking to make the next step in 2014-15. All of the answers, with the exception to coach’s take and Hub sports writer Connor O’Gara’s take, were provided by the student-athlete.
Player: Katelyn Long
High School: Kearney Catholic
Last season: Averaged 4.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and team-high 1.2 blocks per game as a freshman
Individual highlight of 2013-14 season: Grabbing key rebounds down the stretch that closed out a 43-39 victory against Lincoln Lutheran
Team highlight of 2013-14 season: Playing state runner-up Minden in subdistrict finals in front of capacity crowd at Kearney High
Define your role in 2013-14: “Being a freshman, it was just to do all the things I’ve been taught before with the fundamentals and being where I needed to be on defense and knowing the plays on offense.”
What do you expect your role to be in 2014-15?: “That’s a tough question. I want to be more of a shot-blocker and be there more defensively. I’d like to be scoring more on offense this year, too.”
Biggest off-season priority?: “I want to work on the things I had trouble with before so that’d be playing around the perimeter, ball-handling, my shot and that kind of stuff. I’d like to get better at that.”
Goal for 2014-15: “For the team, it’s to make it back to state, get better and get closer as a team. We want to make it to that final game. For me, it’s just to get better at the stuff I need to work on and be more prominent out there.”
Coach’s take: “Defensively, she’ll continue to get better. Offensively, we want her to expand her game and be able to finish at the rim a lot more. I think that’s one of our goals for her, I think that’s one of her goals, hopefully is just to do a better job of finishing,” KCHS coach Rick Petri said.
Connor’s take: As a 6-1 freshman last year, Long probably couldn’t have come into a better situation than the one she did at Kearney Catholic. She wasn’t relied on to do all of the defensive dirty work inside because of the length the Stars had. She admitted she got to be just another tall player on the team. In pieces, Long showed her ability to be more than an interior defensive threat. On a team that moves the ball well and doesn’t have a go-to scorer, Long can wreak plenty of offensive havoc by flashing from block to block. KCHS put up 550 three-pointers last year, which means Long likely won’t see a whole lot of double teams and if she does, she has the awareness to find the open shooter. Long’s height and defensive skillset isn’t going anywhere. But if she can continue to develop her touch around the basket, the Stars will add another dimension that could help them get back to the C1 title game.