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McCarthy’s Character And Kindness

Carianne McCarthy can’t help but smile when she thinks about a special night for her family in 2009.

The night her mom, Michelle McGuire-McCarthy, went up on the Kenmore West Lady Blue Devils Basketball Wall of Fame.

What Carianne, now a 15 year old sophomore who plays for Kenmore East, remembers most from that night was how proud she was of her mom. And how she wanted to be just like her.

“I remember how big of a deal it was,” Carianne said with a smile. “When I was younger I didn’t really realize it, but looking back on it now I remember the night clear as day. I realize how much of a big deal it was and it’s just kind of cool thinking she made her footsteps there now me and (my older sister) Sarah are able to do it here.”

But Carianne McCarthy has done more than emulate her mom. She has forged her own name on the basketball court.

Now in her second full season of varsity, McCarthy is one of the biggest reasons why the Lady Bulldogs are 11-0 in the Niagara Frontier League as they head into their Feb.7 game at North Tonawanda.

“I definitely feel more comfortable this year than I did last year, especially with last year being my first year. But it helps playing with these girls for so long,” McCarthy said. “Yes, it’s only my second year (of varsity) with Kendall (Mills) and Serena (Sordetto) but they’ve really helped me get more comfortable and become a stronger player. And help me realize what I really can do on the court, which I didn’t know I could do when I was younger. They’ve really helped me.”

On paper the Lady Bulldogs are always a tough matchup thanks to their formidable 1-2 offensive punch of Kendall Mills and Serena Sordetto. But as the season has progressed McCarthy has raised her game to give her team another force on the court. Having several watershed moment games along the way; McCarthy dropped 15 points apiece in wins over Hutch-Tech (Dec.2) and Lockport (Jan.13), 13 points in a road win at Lewiston-Porter as well as 14 points and Player of the Game honors in a Jan.27 home win over Lew-Port.

“No question,” said Lady Bulldogs coach Jack Blanch. “Sometimes I think we forget she’s only in 10th grade. She does a lot of things well for us. We ask her to do a little bit more each day in practice and in every game, too, and she’s doing it. She’s had huge games for us against Kenmore West, Lockport. She definitely does make it tough for teams out there.”

At 5-foot-11, the powerful McCarthy has been a force in the paint grabbing rebounds, blocking shots and just flat-out bringing the element of physical play on the court. The root of McCarthy’s improved play centers around talks she and Blanch had in December. Blanch, after seeing some of Carianne’s strong showing honestly told his young forward that had she spent more time working on her game in the off season, she would be even further ahead. McCarthy confessed her coach’s words made her think and look at basketball in a new light.

“Mr. Blanch has really helped me throughout this year about how far I can go with basketball,” she said. “It’s never really been my favorite sport, but he has helped me realize throughout the season the potential I have and it’s kind of cool seeing how far I have come from my debut (on JV) in seventh grade with (coach) Mr.(Les) Simon to Mr. Blanch.”

Smiling when she recalls how often coach Blanch has told her to play AAU, Carianne said that Sordetto had also encouraged her to expand her game to the world of AAU ball.

Getting called up to varsity at the tail end of eighth grade, Carianne had the good fortune to play along side Sarah during the final few weeks of Sarah’s scholastic career. While her mom and sister are obviously huge influences on her life, Carianne said she is fortunate to have multiple role models.

“I have great teammates to play with,” Carianne said. “Kendall being a role model and Serena. Serena has gotten so much better throughout her years and it’s cool to think I could follow in Serena’s footsteps, along with my sister’s and my mom’s.”

Blanch said that while Carianne is absolutely her own person, he sees Carianne display those same qualities of being a good teammate that were the hallmark of who Sarah McCarthy was as a player. “There was a practice a few days ago where she reminded me of Sarah,” Blanch said. “Carianne was helping another kid work on her foul shot, just like her sister did a couple years ago. Now here she is helping somebody and some day that kid will help someone because Carianne helped her. It’s just so nice to see her doing the right thing. No one told her to do it. She did it because it was the right thing to do.”

While Carianne McCarthy learned a lot about the game by playing along side and watching her sister Sarah on the court, she also learned a lot about character and appreciating the game after a knee injury wiped out virtually all of Sarah’s junior year.

“Sarah is definitely one of the strongest people I’ve ever met,” Carianne said. “I’m honestly, honored to have her as my older sister. I think she was made a stronger person through basketball and even though she did miss that junior year she never stopped working her senior year. She always strived to make her team better. She was never a selfish player and it’s cool because I really do think she has tried to pass those (qualities) onto me and I try to play like how she played. Because I know that she was a good player and good person. She’s a genuinely nice person.”

Still a typical younger sister, Carianne couldn’t help but smile as she jokingly added, “but don’t tell Sarah I said that.”

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