Penetrating guard Christina Caddy recently became the first women’s freshman basketball player in the Keith Ferguson era at Barton Community College to sign a letter of intent with an NCAA Division-I school.
The 5-foot-10 Caddy, a native of Lawton, Okla., is bound for Tennessee Tech University, located in Cookeville, Tenn., where the Golden Eagles won the Ohio Valley Conference championship this past season.
Tennessee Tech, coached by Sytia Messer, posted a 23-8 record, a nine-game turnaround from the 2009-10 season. Moreover, they return all five starters for the upcoming season.
“Head coach Messer and the assistant coach (Coretta Brown), they actually took the positions up there together and they’ve been together for three years now,” Caddy said in a cellular phone interview on Thursday evening from Lawton. “Each year, they’ve gotten better and I’m impressed with how much better they’ve gotten each year and the goals that they have set for themselves and for the team.”
In her one season at Barton, Caddy was the driving force for the Cougars, who posted a 21-11 record and advanced to the NJCAA Region VI tournament in Wichita, losing in the opening round.
“We wouldn’t have done much of anything without Christina,” Ferguson said of Caddy, who led the Cougars in scoring (12.6 points per game) and ranked No. 2 in rebounding (6.2 average, trailing only returning post player Netanya Jackson’s 6.6 clip). “She was our best player, she also rebounded and did a little bit of everything.
“Christina really made things tough for the opposition. She was so athletic and she could really go to the rim hard. That’s why she got picked up by Tennessee Tech. We’re really excited for her and it’s great for our program.”
Caddy’s calling card is her athleticism and ability to beat defenders with dribble penetration to the basket.
“She really elevated her game and made the strides to get better, on-and-off the court,” Ferguson said. “She put in the time.
“There’s not a lot of kids in the conference that could score going downhill to the rim like Christina could. She was one of the top three or four athletes in the conference, and there weren’t a lot of people that could stop her.”
Caddy, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in a knee during her senior year in high school, attributes coming back stronger than before the injury as a contributor in her emergence as a penetrator.
“I tore my ACL my senior year and I didn’t get to play that much,” she recalled. “I just worked so hard to get back into the swing of things.”
Caddy saved her best games for rugged Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division action, where the Cougars finished in third place with a 12-4 record.
Her top-scoring games came against Dodge City (25 and 20 points), Garden City (20 and 17), Seward County (20) and Cloud County (18) — a byproduct of attacking with authority.
“Once conference play came around, I felt like I had a chip on my shoulder,” Caddy said. “Even though it was my first year at Barton, I had a chip on my shoulder because they had us picked sixth (in the KJCCC Western Division preseason poll).
“Coach Ferguson told us at the beginning that we were all going to have to grow up fast, so I basically went in playing like that. (Former BCC assistant coach Ben) Lister helped a lot, too, at practices. He always told me that whenever I’m going to the basket, just make sure that I’m attacking it hard and trying to finish at the same time, too.”
Caddy’s propensity for breaking down defenders put her in a select conference group, according to Ferguson.
“Her ability to go to the rim and finish with contact was as good as anybody in the conference this past season,” Ferguson said. “She’ll bring some things to that next level, especially with her athleticism, that will make her tough to defend.
“Christina really grew up as a player. I thought she, more than anybody, improved her game from the first game until the ending part of the year. She was great for us and we’re really going to miss Christina.”
Caddy says her knee is more stable than prior to the injury.
“Before the injury, I would go to the basket, but now I feel like my knee is stronger, that’s for sure, and I didn’t have to really worry about it at all.
“That’s the main part of it. They tell you during rehab that once your knee is healed up, it’s won’t give out on you or anything. The rest of it is mental. I basically got over the mental part of it and went back to playing.”
Ferguson said one of her few weaknesses is handling the ball with her off hand, something he said she’ll improve over the next three years.
“Being able to penetrate, she needs to work a little bit on her left hand at that level,” he said. “But she’ll get a lot of time to do that.”
Caddy made a point to thank her many friends at BCC.
“I would like to thank all of the people at Barton for all of the help they have given me,” Caddy said, “like my advisor, coaches and teammates because I couldn’t have done anything without them, either. They helped me through the tough games.”