Some of the biggest names in New York City girls basketball have called Christ the King home – Chamique Holdsclaw, Sue Bird, Tina Charles.
Sierra Calhoun could place her name into that lofty list by the time she graduates from the perennial powerhouse in two years.
“When you see some of the players who have come up in the past, I think she can encompass those type of players,” Christ the King coach Bob Mackey said. “That’s the capability.”
For now, the do-it-all sophomore is trying to be a leader of a Royals squad trying to stay afloat in the stacked CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens division.
“We’re basically a really young team so we all need to step up our leadership roles and lead by example,” said Calhoun, one of six sophomores on the varsity.
Like her UConn-bound older brother Omar, a senior on the CK boys basketball team, Sierra is grounded and mature. Sure major colleges, Connecticut included, are calling and the accolades are piling on, but the 6-foot-1 wing is focused on her job this season.
“I don’t really think about that,” Calhoun said. “I just want to keep getting better, be the best player I can be.”
What Calhoun can do better than most is score in transition, something sharpshooting Adelphi-bound guard Lauren Nuss knows all too well.
“I know if I get the outlet I can look up and know she’s on the right side,” Nuss said. “If we need a basket because we haven’t scored in a while, I know we can count on Sierra to get us started.”
Joining Calhoun and Nuss in the CK backcourt is senior Rayne Connell, a combo guard considering UPenn and SMU. Connell, though, will miss the early portion of the season after a bout with mono and having a cyst removed from her back.
“She’s a knockdown shooter,” Calhoun said of Nuss. “Anytime I penetrate or get to the rack, I know she’s always there at the 3-point line ready to shoot and I know she’s going to knock it down.”
Up front, CK will rely on 6-foot-1 Taylor Butigian, 5-foot-11 Kollyns Scarbrough and Ashika Kuruvilla, a 6-foot-1 junior transfer from India. A deep backcourt will include Amanni Fernandez and Alyssa Gatti, who Mackey would like to see share the ball-handling duties, as well as Kristen Drogsler, Ashley Raaf and Shannon Barrett.
“I think we’re going to get to the line a lot this year, I think we’re going to be taking the ball at people,” Mackey said. “I want to lead the state in free throws. We can do that.”
As for expectations, they’re always high in Middle Village no matter what other teams have. The ultimate goal is always the New York State Federation Class AA title and the Royals will settle for nothing less.
“I’m excited,” Mackey said. “I like the way this runs. I like this team. There are moments when I want to lose my mind, but for the most part it’s been great. What we’ve got is a really good mix that’s working really well. I think we have a lot of weapons.”
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