In the Providence High locker room after a girls basketball game on a Tuesday night, Casey Riegers teammates are changing out of their uniforms, ready to go home.Rieger is putting on her volleyball clothes, getting ready to head to practice with her club team. Its the same thing that happens after every Tuesday night game.Its just like normal, said Rieger, 18. Of course, after a basketball game, Im like, I want to sleep. But one of my friends was telling me, Youve got to suck it up and do what you dont want to do.Because after its over, youre glad you did it.Rieger was a top player on the girls basketball team as a sophomore, but she didnt play her junior year so she could focus on volleyball, her main sport. Now, after leading the Panthers to a state volleyball title last year, shes back for her senior year and leads her team in four categories: points, rebounds, blocks and steals. And shes still playing club volleyball.Shes really helped the team, said third-year Providence High head basketball coach Bill Smith. Shes a great leader, real inspiring, motivating. And Im sure she would stand here and say, My passion is still volleyball. The 6-foot senior planned to play both basketball and volleyball all four years of high school. She picked up basketball as a sixth-grader, playing for a Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association team. I was the tall, awkward, lengthy girl that was no help at all, Rieger told South Charlotte News in her sophomore season in 2011. She quickly improved, helping the Providence junior varsity team go 17-1 as a freshman. She was called up to the varsity for the playoffs, where the Panthers lost to Hopewell in the first round. In her sophomore year, Rieger led the team in points (12.8 per game), was second in rebounds (8.8 per game) and was named all-conference. That team finished 13-14 and lost in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs. The program was improving. Then Rieger, fellow volleyball player Emily Franklin (now a senior committed to Davidson) and softball player Elena Covert (now at North Carolina) decided to focus on their primary sport last year. It was definitely, like, a hard decision to make, because I love coming and playing basketball, Rieger said. But junior year I just wanted to have as much free time as I could to focus on volleyball and school.Without three of its top players from the year before, the Panthers dropped to 6-18 last year and missed the state playoffs. We took a hit, Smith said. We were moving things in the right direction for the program, which is the most important thing. But again, I can still look back and say weve made a lot of strides over the last few years. Rieger missed playing for the Panthers. She went to a few games and was still friends with the players. She played pickup games at the YMCA and played with her twin brother, Chris, who plays on the Providence boys team.Rieger said she doesnt regret dropping the sport. She and the rest of the Providence volleyball team won a state championship last year, and she gained experience from playing with her club team. She was Co-Observer Player of the Year as a junior and has been named conference volleyball player of the year three times, including as a senior last fall, when she had 307 kills, 32 aces and 27 blocks.But Rieger didnt want to miss her senior basketball season. I dont want to go home and be lazy and do nothing, she said. I might as well kick my butt in practice.Rieger averages 12 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 3.3 steals, all team highs. Shes third on the team in assists with 1.9. The Panthers are 11-12 (6-7 Southwestern 4A through Feb. 14) and in good position to make the playoffs, tied for fourth in the conference.If she was primarily a basketball player, Rieger likely would be even better. Smith said Rieger is the kind of player hed like to be able to work with year round. She came out here as raw as a new person at the beginning of senior year, Smith said. But shes very athletic, so she can overcome a lot of things with athleticism.Rieger struggles with her free throws (35 percent). She gets rebounds like a volleyball player, tipping it around before finally grabbing it. Smith said he would like her to go up and get the ball with both hands. But shes a good ballhandler and has the green light to take the ball down the court herself. That kind of stuff comes instinctively to her, but theres still fundamental things that we have to go over with her every day, Smith said.Rieger had to get back in basketball shape; theres more running than in volleyball. I remember the first couple of games, I looked like a lobster and I cant breathe, and its embarrassing, she said. Rieger is busy her senior year. Shes playing basketball and club volleyball at the same time. She is in the school chorus for the second year in a row and was voted homecoming queen in fall.It keeps me out of trouble, Rieger said. I love being busy and, I mean, the weeks go by so much faster. Rieger wants to attend Appalachian State next year. (Pale people fit in at the mountains, so Ill fit in there, she said.) Shes not sure if she will play volleyball. She doesnt have an offer from the school yet. Other schools showed interest in her playing volleyball, but she said she didnt feel right at those schools.Part of Rieger wants to be a normal college student. But if she gets a chance to play at Appalachian State, she said, she will. Rieger won the most athletic senior superlative. Shes always playing sports and tries to organize football games after school. When male players dont guard her in pickup basketball games because shes a girl, she gets frustrated. Its that drive that keeps her going from basketball games straight to volleyball practices when her teammates are going home to sleep. I love sports, she said. I am obsessed.
Monday, Feb. 18, 2013
Providence senior comes back to lead Panthers girls basketball
Providence senior Casey Rieger is playing basketball again this year after taking last year off to focus on volleyball. She leads the Panthers in points, rebounds, blocks and steals. COURTESY OF RUSTY TRIANSOU - ProvidenceSportsPhoto.com
Casey Rieger took her junior year off from playing basketball to focus on her main sport, volleyball. She helped the Panthers win a state championship her junior year. ROBERT LAHSER - firstname.lastname@example.org
Providence High senior basketball and volleyball player Casey Rieger was also named homecoming queen this school year. COURTESY OF RUSTY TRIANSOU - ProvidenceSportsPhoto.com
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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