Basketball Forever: Cassidy Neff loves the game even with free throws

Basketball may not be her only sport, but Gull Lake junior Cassidy Neff preferences have been clear since she started playing the game in first grade.

“I love the game so much and I am always looking forward to playing it each year,” Neff said.

While she said she loves to play soccer, for her “basketball is more fun to play.”

Neff explained that basketball she likes how organized the game is and how there is a big team effort. She said that for her it came naturally and was easy for her to pick up. 

“The game of basketball can be fast at times but that is what makes it exciting to play,” Neff said.

She said like having freshman, JV and varsity teams because it is “more controlled, and there are less people on the team so you can get closer to them.”

Cassidy Neff shoots a free throw.
Photo by Bailey Mougalian

While pressure and stress are a struggle for those playing sports, Neff said she doesn’t feel pressure too much on the court, but…

“When shooting free throws, everyone watches you and I can feel the pressure when shooting them,” Neff said.

“I get stressed when it’s a good game but in some ways, it is a good type of stress because it is exciting,” she said.

The pressure isn’t constant for Neff, and it only really happens when it’s a close game and she has to shoot free throws. How does she cope?

“[By] taking a deep breath and thinking positive while calming myself down and dealing with it,” Neff said. 

This year was a strong season and the varsity girls finishing 11-10. Even the losses were close and intense games.

“I felt that I had a good season this year and got a good amount of points, assists, and steals that helped the team,” Neff said.

As for inspiration to play, she said it’s her family who have been there for her.

“They have always been there to support me and help me get better throughout the years,” Neff said. 

According to Neff, her coaches have also been a source and important guide for herself and the team on what they feel is best for them to win.

“The coaches were good at communicating, and they made sure to prepare us for every game so we played our best,” she said. “They worked us hard every practice, so they knew what we needed to work on and what we were doing good at.”

She said they also reviewed previous games to see how the team could improve. Cassidy said she felt the coaches were smart with their decisions and tried their best to make the team as good as it could be. 

“The teamwork was pretty good this year, and people made sure to think about what they wanted to do with the ball and make smart passes and shots,” she said.

While the team isn’t always going to be 100 percent focused all the time, Cassidy said she felt there is always improvement in focusing and listening more in practices.

Constructive criticism is always something people should learn to give and handle because it is a life lesson,” Neff said.

Overall, Neff felt the season went pretty well.

“We all care about not only improving and winning but having fun.”

“There is always room for improvement and a team can do good, but always better,” she said.

Neff said she felt she contributed as much as she could do for the team.

“I feel proud for what I have done,” she said, “and I know I can keep playing to become stronger and better.”

Rylee Hovanec

Rylee Hovanec

I am a sophomore at Gull Lake High School. I play volleyball, basketball, and I run track. I live with my mom, dad, and I have a cat. I enjoy playing sports and I have been playing them most of my life. I like to hangout with friends and family, watch TV/movies, listen to music and relax.

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