By Brian Nielsen
As her game evolves to an extent, Carsyn Fearday isn’t quite ready to yield to basketball analytics.
In these days when some have reduced basketball to a math equation insisting on 3-pointers, layups or nothing, Lake Land’s freshman guard stands by another solution.
“I think my pull-up jump shot is something you’ll see from me,” Fearday said. “Fifteen to 17 feet. My senior year I was able to work with (Effingham High School) coach (Jeff) Schafer on my pull-up jump shot, and now I am working on my 3-point shot. The game has definitely changed to the 3-point shot. I credit (Lake Land) coach (Dave) Johnson a lot for helping my 3-point shot. We work on shooting a lot in practice.”
Still, the 5-foot-7 Fearday is among those in basketball keeping the mid-range game alive.
The drive-right-by-you guard is averaging 15.7 points per game to lead a Lake Land team that takes a 25-3 record and No. 6 NJCAA Division II national ranking into Monday’s 5:30 p.m. game at Southwestern Illinois College.
Just as her days as a high school all-stater for Effingham, Fearday is using her athletic ability to get to the basket and post a .480 field-goal shooting percentage.
That includes 38 3-point baskets in 97 attempts for a .392 mark, second on the Lakers only to her continuing sidekick Abby Weis, who has 51 3s in 148 tries while averaging 11.3 points as the two Effingham products help put Lake Land in the national junior college picture.
“The only thing that maybe surprises me is her adapting to the 3-point shot,” Johnson said of Fearday’s quick transition to a freshman phenom. “For someone who rarely shot 3s in high school, she is adjusting well. The rest she already could do, shooting off the dribble and the pull-up shot. Maybe defensively, she is guarding a little more athletic player now and doing a good job. I didn’t have any doubts that she could score so I’m not surprised by that at all.”
Neither is Schafer, who continues to follow his former star who averaged 17 points as a senior when Effingham made its second straight IHSA Class 3A super-sectional appearance last year.
“No, I’m not surprised at all,” Schafer said. “I always thought if she played a different system than mine she could score more. She’s not just a scorer. She rebounds and distributes the ball.”
In fact, Fearday’s 4.6 rebounding average is second on the Lake Land team to Tre’soir Newson’s 7.1 and her 2.5 assists average ranks third for the Lakers.
“The thing that impresses me is she has good understanding of what we need from her,” Johnson said. “Some games she has been a scorer and some games she has been a distributer, and that’s hard to find in a player.”
Why not distribute the ball to the likes of Weis with that 3-point shot or others as this 25-3 Lake Land season just continues the success Fearday enjoyed by going 31-3 as a junior at Effingham and 28-7 as a senior.
“People probably say I was stupid for not getting her more shots,” Schafer said. “If she had been on this year’s team she probably would have scored more. But I don’t think she would have gotten any more enjoyment than winning 60 games in two years.”
“I think I just know my role,” she said. “In high school, I had good players as well. Playing with Abby since third grade definitely made me more confident. Winning is fun. I don’t care how much I score. I just don’t like to lose. I played three sports in high school, and I never wanted to lose in any of them.”
Accordingly, Fearday brings a competitive fire to whatever she does.
“I can’t think of one time when I asked her for more effort,” Schafer said.
Known for his fiery, demanding coaching in his long success at Lake Land, Johnson said, “I don’t think I’ve had to get on her a lot. Carsyn is well prepared. She knows the scouting report.”
In college, Fearday can now put all her energy into one sport. Last fall, instead of volleyball, she was getting ready for the early start of Lake Land basketball.
The coming spring will be different when she is not playing softball.
Playing both basketball and softball in college is hard enough anyway with the overlapping seasons, and Fearday said her physical therapy major makes trying to play two sports nearly impossible.
“I want to work in physical therapy,” Fearday said “I want to stay in Effingham.”
Fearday commutes from her home south of Effingham, and family being able to watch her games at the nearby community college was a big factor in her choosing Lake Land.
What holds in store after Lake Land in basketball remains to be seen.
“I definitely want to keep playing,” she said. “I don’t know where.”
Looking forward to another season with his freshman scoring leader, Johnson sees Fearday eventually playing elsewhere. “I think she can play as high of a level as she wants to play,” the Lake Land coach said. “Some Division I’s will be concerned a lot about height, but I don’t see that as a problem.”
Fearday has answered any concerns so far this season.