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Women's Basketball: Raiders' new coach trying to rebuild program

During her high school basketball career at Pequot Lakes, Cassie (Evenson) Carey developed a reputation as an aggressive, scrappy player, one who took the ball to the rim, dove for loose balls, blocked out on the boards and tried to cause turnovers.

Central Lakes College basketball players Tiffany Smith (left), Kiana Edwards and Alyshia Angeleno talk with Raiders coach Cassie Carey during practice Monday at CLC. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Central Lakes College basketball players Tiffany Smith (left), Kiana Edwards and Alyshia Angeleno talk with Raiders coach Cassie Carey during practice Monday at CLC. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls

During her high school basketball career at Pequot Lakes, Cassie (Evenson) Carey developed a reputation as an aggressive, scrappy player, one who took the ball to the rim, dove for loose balls, blocked out on the boards and tried to cause turnovers.

She strived to be the kind of player the opposition didn't want to face.

Carey, who begins her first season as head coach of the Central Lakes College Raiders, hopes to instill some of those attributes in her first Raider team.

This isn't the first rodeo for the 34-year-old Carey. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, she helped run the Pequot Lakes girls basketball AAU program for five summers. She assisted the Pequot Lakes girls basketball team in 2005 when the Patriots played for the state championship.

She went on to be a head volleyball coach, head swim coach, assistant varsity softball coach, and spent numerous seasons assisting and running camps at all age levels of basketball in a variety of locations.

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In 2011, she was named Alaska state coach of the year in volleyball, and coached a successful boys basketball program in Valdez, Alaska, where she taught health and physical education.

However, the 1999 Pequot Lakes graduate may have to alter her coaching style a little as CLC has just eight players on its roster. Two players, Kelly Pearson and Jenny Skoog, also play volleyball for CLC, which plays in the national tournament this weekend. That leaves Carey with a short bench for Wednesday night's opener at St. Cloud Technical College.

"I feel like regardless of how many numbers we have, every practice and every game has to be competitive and planting that seed is important," Carey said. "As we continue through the season, my hope is the ladies appreciate being asked to continue to work hard day in and day out in order to compete for a more concrete starting five toward the end of the season."

Carey must rebuild a program that didn't field a team in 2013-14 due to lack of numbers. That forced her to basically start over from scratch as potential sophomore players graduated and freshmen may have transferred.

"I'm such a relationship person. Because I was hired late in the season I didn't have that chance to build those relationships like I will this year," Carey said, "so because of that I feel like that was a missed opportunity.

"However, in the midst of that and looking at our roster, I couldn't be more proud in the amount of talent we have, the great attitudes and different things we have on board."

The roster includes just one sophomore, 5-5 guard Tiffany Smith of Pine River-Backus, who previously played at Crown College in St. Bonafacius.

"I actually coached her in Pine River when she was a freshman," Carey said. "She was on JV and played some varsity. She's quick, very athletic."

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Freshmen include 5-7 MacKenzie Holst, Staples; 5-8 Kiana Edwards, Fairbanks, Alaska; 5-9 Pearson from Staples; 5-9 Skoog from Menahga; 5-10 Bethany Cressman, Lake Region Christian; 5-10 Angela Mosbeck, Thief River Falls; and 6-0 Alyshia Angeleno, Montgomery.

Carey projects Holst as a 3-point threat.

"She's such a pure shot, a great outside shot," Carey said. "She has a great work ethic. I tell her to be there at quarter-to and she's there a half-hour before. She's that kind of girl. She was coached well. She will definitely be a valuable player."

Edwards comes to CLC from a coaching connection that Carey made when she was in Alaska.

"I think Kiana will be a great asset to our team," Carey said. "She's quick, she's got a great shot, she's not afraid of contact. She's the type of player that dives after those loose balls and does a lot of those intangibles that you really appreciate."

Carey hopes Pearson and Skoog can start practicing next week.

"I've heard great things about Kelly," Carey said. "She was supposed to be leaving at the end of last year because we didn't have a basketball program. But thank the Lord I was able to touch base with her and let her know that I would be the new coach. ... Thankfully she chose to stick around."

Cressman, a standout at LRCS, is currently on a mission trip.

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"She's got some skills," Carey said. "She definitely has a nose for the basket. She finishes very well."

Angeleno was Carey's first recruiting visit.

"(CLC men's coach Jim) Russell called me and said I've got this girl going into criminal justice from Montgomery. Why don't you come and meet her and have your first talk," Carey said. "So I met her and her mom, who played at Bemidji State.

"Alyshia is a great find. She's a big player who moves very well. She's not afraid of contact."

Carey said Mosbeck will likely be a role player.

"We are working with her to help gain confidence and be able to step in and help out when needed," Carey said.

Carey hopes to restore CLC's winning tradition and make it a basketball destination once again.

"We want to rebuild a reputation about having expectations as hard-workers, to have a winning attitude, so at the end of the day if they can say, and I can say, that everything we have in us for that day was left on the floor, that's what I'm asking for," Carey said. "If that means we win more ballgames than we lose, that would be outstanding, but I think a lot can be taught about going through growing pains, working together as a team and going through the process as we evolve through a culture shift with this program."

Carey is eager to work alongside and learn from Russell and his men's program.

"I would love to see that Jim and I thrive off of one another's successes and we're collaborating," she said, "and that we continue in those collaborations to show the community and our future recruits that this is a place that you want your kid to go play at because they work together, and they're going to teach your kids life skills.

"And if we win at the end of the day, then it's a bonus."

Raiders roster

5-Mackenzie Holst, 5-7, Staples

12-Kiana Edwards, 5-8, Fairbanks, AK

14-Tiffany Smith, 5-5, Pine River

23-Kelly Pearson, 5-9, Staples

25-Jenny Skoog, 5-9, Menahga

35-Bethany Cressman, 5-10, Breezy Point

41-Angela Mosbeck, 5-10, Thief River Falls

43-Alyshia Angeleno, 6-0

Raiders schedule

Nov 12, at St. Cloud Technical 5 p.m.

Nov 15, NDSCS Tournament at Wahpeton, N.D., 6 p.m.

Nov 16, NDSCS Tournament 2 p.m.

Nov 21, St. Cloud Technical 5 p.m.

Nov 25, at Fergus Falls 5 p.m.

Dec 5, at Anoka-Ramsey 6 p.m.

Dec 6, at Riverland 1 p.m.

Dec 12, Ridgewater 6 p.m.

Dec 13, Minnesota West 1 p.m.

Dec 19-20, CLC Invitational

Jan 2-3, CLC Winter Classic

Jan 7, Fond du Lac 6 p.m.

Jan 10, Itasca 1 p.m.

Jan 14, at Vermilion 6 p.m.

Jan 17, at Mesabi 1 p.m.

Jan 23, Rainy River 6 p.m.

Jan 24, at Hibbing 1 p.m.

Jan 28, at Northland 6 p.m.

Jan 31, at Rainy River 1 p.m.

Feb 4, Mesabi 6 p.m.

Feb 7, Vermilion 1 p.m.

Feb 13, at Itasca 6 p.m.

Feb 14, Northland 1 p.m.

Feb 18, at Fond du Lac 6 p.m.

Feb 21, Hibbing 1 p.m.

Feb 27-28, MCAC state & Region 13 Tournament at Anoka

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

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