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2009-2010 Basketball: Carson girls preview

By David Shaw
dshaw@salisburypost.com
Three years in the NPC basement have left Brooke Misenheimer and the Carson girls basketball team looking to relocate.
The fourth-year Cougars coach is hoping an off-season filled with about 40 summer league games and weeks of extra work will translate into a few more victories ó and a climb in the standings.
“I know this much,”Misenheimer insisted recently. “These kids are not content with losing. It’s been a long three years, but this past summer did us a world of good. We played a lot and experienced a lot of success. We realized we can compete and we can win.”
That’s important, but Carson’s road to recovery promises to be a bumpy ride. CHS has won only four of 71 decisions since opening for business in 2006 and Misenheimer is banking on three returning starters, six lettermen and a couple of newcomers to turn the program around.
“It begins with a new attitude,” she said. “A winning attitude. A new atmosphere. We’re confident. We’re committed to improving.”
Amnesia is probably a good thing in Carson’s case. It suffered a 13-game losing streak en route to a 2-22 overall record last winter. And after beating Northwest Cabarrus midway through the conference schedule, it dropped its last eight and finished 1-17 in league play.
But that was then. This is now. And Misenheimer has no problem identifying a starting point.
“It’s going to be important for us to get some wins early,” she said. “That’s a key.”
Carson will play its third non-conference game Nov. 30 against Hickory Ridge. Its NPC season launches Dec. 11 at Statesville.
The Cougars are led by 5-foot-11 center Breckin Settlemyer, a physical senior who can rebound but must become more of an offensive force. She averaged five points a game last season, including a career-best 17 in an early loss to North Rowan.
“I think she gained a lot of confidence in volleyball season,” Misenheimer said. “I hope that energy carries over.”
Also returning is senior Kaylene Livengood, a 5-8 sniper who can be a weapon anywhere on the court. She paced last year’s team with a 6.8 scoring average and reached double-figures seven times.
Junior point guard Demya Heggins is Carson’s most-improved player.
“She has truly bought into our system,” said Misenheimer. “She’s become a much better ball-handler and she always saw the floor well and knew when to attack.”
Sophomore guard Chloe Monroe was promoted from the jayvee squad for last year’s Christmas tournament, netted 14 points in her second game and stuck with the varsity.
“She did so well we had to keep her,” said Misenheimer. “She can be lethal from the 3-point line and does a lot of little things ó like getting herself in perfect position for offensive rebounds, anticipating a pass, defending.”
If anyone has “Future Star” stamped on her forehead, it’s freshman Allison Blackwell. A 5-9 forward/guard hybrid, she plays four positions effectively.
“And she’s good at every one of them,” said Misenheimer. “Every single play in practice she goes all out. You don’t see that a lot.”
Fourth-year player Jazzmin Brown has endured Carson’s growing pains and remains a valuable inside/outside threat off the bench. So does 5-5 junior Maegan Livengood, a steady player who rarely makes mistakes.
Senior forward Brittany Alexander, a North Rowan transfer who sat out last year, gives Carson a 5-10 finisher with good hands. Freshmen Kelly Dulkoski and Tyesha Phillips will compete for playing time and junior Beth Cloninger, a first-year forward who has moved in from Nebraska, has been a pleasant surprise.
The question for Carson remains simply, “Is it enough?” Will a fresh start, some legitimate scorers and a yes-we-can outlook mean anything by season’s end?
“I think so,” Misenheimer said. “But that’s something to be seen. I feel like we’re in a better position than we’ve ever been before. It’s never enough just to be competitive. We’re ready to take the next step.”

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