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Calhoun improves, contributes for CK

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It’s slow and steady for Sierra Calhoun.

“I think I’m playing good now, but playing on the varsity level you have to keep stepping up, keep getting better every game,” she said.

The Christ the King freshman, who scouting services have ranked as high as a top-10 prospect nationally in her class, is nine games into her varsity career and the signature effort that many expected has yet to come. The 6-foot Calhoun is currently coming off the bench for the experienced and nationally ranked Royals, but at times has been left in with starters in keys situations.

“I know everyone is waiting for that breakout,” CK Coach Bob Mackey said. “We are not worried about it. She is playing really well. She is contributing greatly to the team. She’s been terrific and her academics are outstanding.”

Calhoun scored a season-high 14 points in a 63-42 basketball win over Mary Louis in Middle Village Jan. 8. She played a big role in the Royals (8-3) closing out a dominant 37-12 first half. She ended the first quarter with a right corner jumper. In the second quarter she got on the glass, made free throws and scored six of the Royals’ final eight points.

“Right now she is playing great in the system and really contributi­ng,” Mackey said.

While Christ the King has cruised in four games after Christmas, Calhoun was instrumental in its success at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Ariz., before the holiday break. She scored 10 points twice, in a tight loss to St. Mary’s (Calif.) and in a win over St. Mary’s (Canada) and nine in a victory over Highlands Ranch (Colo.).

“She can be great,” Virginia-bound guard Bria Smith said. “She is one of the hardest workers in practices. She just has to keep on working and keep focused, because she could be amazing.”

In the first three games of the tournament, she was the third scorer behind Smith and forward Nia Oden, who is headed to Illinois. Calhoun is only the third freshmen, including Oden and Smith, to be moved up over the last 10 years. She was promoted two games into the Royals’ season. Christ the King recently suspended its school rule not allowing freshman to play on the varsity.

The presence of Smith, Oden and returning starters Lauren Nuss and Rayne Connell from last year’s state Federation Class AA title team allow for a slowed growing process for Calhoun, whose older brother Omar is a star on the Royals’ boys team. She has shown flashes of what she is capable of and played well in stretches, leading the fast break, going strong to the basket and showing off a midrange jumper. It should just be a precursor for things to come.

“I’m just playing my game, getting better,” Calhoun said. “Keep working and that day is going to come, how I’m suppose to play.”

Updated 10:48 am, October 12, 2011
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