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021119 CM JE G Bball Chalon

Cato-Meridian's Cassie Chalon shoots the ball against Jordan-Elbridge at Jordan-Elbridge High School Monday.

Despite being more than six feet tall, Cassie Chalon spent most of her freshman season on the bench.

Not getting much playing experience or training before joining the varsity team, the young basketball player wasn’t trusted enough for regular minutes. But instead of complaining about playing time, Chalon did what she and her mom thought was right.

She worked for it.

Chalon worked with skill coaches, played basketball with various youth programs and dedicated herself in the gym to become a starter her sophomore season at Cato-Meridian.

Now a senior, Chalon is one of the standout players in Cayuga County — and not just because she stands at 6-foot-2

“I’d work with her in practice, but she wasn’t good enough to get into the game,” Blue Devils coach Kate Modafferi said of Chalon her freshman season. “I talked to her at the end of the year at practice and I knew she was smart and could get better. … She then put time in at the rec center and ran on the treadmill all the time to get in shape. She worked and worked and worked on her game. When I saw her at the open gym before her sophomore season I talked with (assistant coach Brad Andrews) and was like ‘You’ll not believe Cassie.’”

Chalon was understandably frustrated after her freshman season and began to work with skills coaches in the offseason before her sophomore year.

“Any day I could go to the gym I would just to shoot or work on post moves or to run,” Chalon said. “Just to practice everything that I was learning because I was learning a lot really fast.

“I was so focused on my goal of playing next year and getting off the bench. I think that’s why I advanced so quickly and why I continue to advance so quickly.”

Chalon has played for a few different AAU teams over the offseason and plays summer league with Cato-Meridian. When she has any open time, it’s at the Cato-Meridian Recreational Center.

Before the game against Jordan-Eldridge Monday night, Chalon averaged 15 points and 18 rebounds per game. Against the Eagles she posted 25 points and 30 boards.

“I use her as an example all the time,” Modafferi said. “I try to tell the kids that showing up to summer league two times a week isn’t working on their game. She works on her game outside of AAU, summer basketball and open gyms.”

Chalon has come a long way in her four years on the varsity program, and plans to continue her basketball career in college. While she’s received offers from nine different states, she plans to stay in New York.

“I’ve gone through a lot to get to where I am, so I’m happy and content with continually improving myself,” Chalon said. “I’ve been through enough to say to myself…. I’ve been through so much that I know I can’t stop now.”

What Chalon has done has left an impression with Modafferi.

“She’s the story I’m going to be telling to future kids for a long time,” Modafferi said. “When other kids are put in that position sitting the bench they’ll complain or tell their parents … instead of putting work into it. She’s a huge success story in my eyes.”

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Sports writer Jeremy Houghtaling can be reached at 315-282-2256 or at jeremy.houghtaling@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenHough.

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