Paschal wraps up pressure-free summer|Future Pirate lights up AAU circuit

Published 11:04 am Thursday, August 6, 2009

Contributing Writer

With the pressure of weighing college offers and performing in front of scouts off her shoulders, Williamston star shooting guard Katie Paschal is in the midst of one of her most enjoyable summers.
Paschal, a 5-7 rising senior, committed to East Carolina University last fall and since then has spent her time doing what she loves to do most – play basketball.
Already dedicated to the Pirates, Paschal said goodbye to her Nike-backed Boo Harvey AAU team based in Virginia, and chose to play this summer for the more financially meager Garner Flames based in Raleigh.
Without worrying how every missed shot or turnover would affect her grading by scouts, the only pressure Paschal faced came from opposing defenses.
“Yeah, it was more fun this year,” Paschal said. “I didn’t have to focus on trying to impress anybody. I could just go out and enjoy my last year of travel ball and just play hard without any pressure.”
Last summer Paschal was a backup on the high profile Boo Harvey squad that finished second in the nation. Though she is grateful for the experience, Paschal said she is happy with her decision to play closer to home.
“There wasn’t that much of a difference between the two,” Paschal said. “For the most part we went to the same tournaments as Boo did. We were able to beat a lot of Nike teams. We actually played them in the championship round of a tournament in Florida and lost by only 12 points. There wasn’t that much of a difference between the skills of the players.”
The talent level may have been similar, but Paschal noted that there was a bigger difference in the way the two teams practiced and arrived at tournaments.
“With Boo we flew everywhere we went; with this team we had to drive everywhere,” Paschal said. “Also, with Boo the practices were extremely hard. It was more like a college atmosphere. Our practices are hard, but they were not on the college level like Boo’s was.”
Harvey’s extensive practice sessions of a year ago paid off for Paschal this summer. The 2009 AP All-State selection and state's leading scorer (31 ppg) estimates that she averaged 15 points per game and five assists, and led the Flames in minutes played.
“I think I learned a lot from last year,” Paschal said. “In practice we went up against some of the best players in the country everyday, and I think that helped me a lot. It helped me become a starter, and I think I played the most minutes out of everybody on the team.”
Playing for Flames coach Arne Morris, whom Paschal said was instrumental in her signing with ECU, the shooting guard spent a large portion of the summer working on her defense.
“Last year I realized I need to work a lot on my defense, and this year there was a huge difference” Paschal said. “I worked hard on it last summer, too, and this year it really paid off.”
The sharp-shooter played in major tournaments this summer as the Flames traveled to Georgia, Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C. Despite not being able to go to Disney World, Paschal said playing in Orlando, Fla. was her favorite because the team got to stay in a condo.
Paschal has been playing competitive ball steadily from the fall until the end of July. The future Pirate's AAU season began shortly after her prep season ended, leaving her about 20 days of vacation time until she begins her senior year at Williamston High School.
So how does she plan to spend her time? Well, if you know Katie, you already know the answer.
“I’m just going to keep playing basketball; I enjoy it,” Paschal said. “My dad (Roanoke head football coach Brian Paschal) made me take a few days off after the end of July, but I’m just going to keep practicing for my senior year.”
Aside from her obvious love for the game, Paschal said what drives her to make at least 700 made shots per home practice period is the final opportunity to get to the state title game.
“Getting to the state championship means a lot to me,” Paschal said. “It’s going to be my last year. The past three years we have lost a lot of heart-breakers, especially the game against Pender. We are starting the year thinking that this is the season we are going to get there, and, hopefully, we will.”