Callahan’s passion shines through

Published 9:48 pm Saturday, April 19, 2014

Upon seeing Karry Callahan up close, one of the first impressions she leaves is similar to a lot of growing legends.

It seems like she’d be … bigger.

The Vicksburg High sophomore is, in fact, only 5 feet, 8 inches tall. On the basketball court, however, it seems like she’s 6-foot-8.

Callahan, in her first full varsity season, averaged a double-double — 13.6 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Her consistency and talent made her the most reliable player on a Missy Gators’ squad that reached the state playoffs for the first time in six seasons, and also made her the 2014 Vicksburg Post girls basketball Player of the Year.

“I’m proud of myself for accomplishing something as a sophomore, mainly,” Callahan said. “I’m going to try to work for this the next two years, too.”

Callahan showed a glimpse of her potential two years ago as an eighth-grader. She received a call-up to the varsity roster late in the season, and had 15 points and 10 rebounds in her first game with the high school squad.

Unfortunately, she only played in two more games that season before she tore her ACL. The injury severely limited her in the 2012-13 season as well. She averaged just 4.5 points in 22 games.

“She tore her ACL and handled it well. What she had to do to get back, she was willing to do,” Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog said. “The happiest I’ve seen her was in the Pearl game this year, when she didn’t have to wear a brace.”

Callahan returned for this season completely healthy, and turned in a season-long string of outstanding performances.

Callahand had 14 double-doubles in 24 games, and nine games with 15 rebounds or more. In the Division 4-5A tournament championship game against Pearl, she had 22 points, 18 rebounds and four assists.

“I love rebounding. That’s something I try to go after every game,” Callahan said. “I guess, to me, I’m not tall at all. I’m doing something people my height aren’t able to do.”

Besides her rebounding prowess, Callahan is also a solid defender and playmaker. She averaged 1.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game, both of which were team-highs, and occasionally played point guard.

“She’s versatile. She could handle the ball for us,” Hartzog said. “But she’s always rebounding. It didn’t matter what position she was in, she was going to get some rebounds.”

If Callahan has a fault, it stems from one of her biggest strengths — her passion for the game.

Her emotions sometimes got the better of her this season, leading to bad hustle fouls and turnovers from trying to do too much with the basketball. For several weeks, it even forced Callahan out of the starting lineup and into a sixth-man role.

“I had trouble with my attitude and had to work on it,” Callahan said. “I’m not cocky at all. I got mad out there and everything went downhill.”

Callahan kept up her steady play while coming off the bench and eventually worked her way back into the starting lineup. The lesson learned, she’s looking forward to what the Missy Gators can achieve over the next two seasons.

They finished 9-16 this season, but did reach the Class 5A satellite round. Three starters, including Callahan, and six players total are returning.

“To me, we can beat any team because we have a good squad that plays together. We should have an even better team next year,” Callahan said.

She’s also hoping to continue to play well and play beyond high school.

“It’s something I’m looking forward to. I want to go further with basketball,” she said. “But I also want to go to school on an academic scholarship.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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