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Playing the post is tall task for Thunder

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Help is on the way for Courtney Grant. The 5-foot-9 senior is holding her own in the post for Rocklin High School’s girls basketball team despite battling players who have a height advantage. Grant is the only experienced post player for first-year coach Rob Ferraro, who spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant with the Thunder’s varsity boys team. The position is hers by default. “I’ve played the post my whole life,” Grant said. “Probably every game, someone’s taller than me.” After Ferraro accepted the job in October, he met with each of his players to figure out what he had. “When I talked to Courtney, she asked me where I saw her fitting in,” Ferraro said. “She’s never had a chance to play on the perimeter, but there’s no time to teach her those skills as a senior.” Ferraro sold Grant on the post by saying there would be ample playing time if she could handle it. “Not a lot of players knock on the door to play the post,” said Ferraro, who did not have many options. Sophomore Lydia Summers played the post for the junior varsity team last season, but she’s 5-8. Senior Erin Dean is 5-9, but her abilities are better suited for the perimeter than the post. Dean does her fair share of the dirty work, Ferraro said, and has been one of the team’s top rebounders. That leaves Grant and sophomore Jaimie Curtis, who is playing high school basketball for the first time, to play the post. Ferraro has been forced to rely on Grant, and she has not let him down. “Courtney’s a warrior,” Ferraro said. “Some people look at an undersized post as a weak link, but that’s not the case at all with Courtney. Every coach would love to have Courtney on his team.” Curtis’ inexperience limits how much she can contribute this season. She still manages to make opponents take notice, however. At 6-6, she has become accustomed to standing out in a crowd. Her twin sister, Kaitlyn, is 6-foot and has no interest in basketball. Curtis rekindled hers in the fall after meeting the varsity players, Ferraro said, and being accepted despite being a newcomer. Basketball did not appeal to Curtis after she was talking into playing in the seventh grade. She had already been 6-foot for two years by then, but she never felt as if she belonged on the court. “I didn’t feel I was good enough,” she said. Now she does. Curtis is having a ball even though there have been games in which she has not played. “I’m so happy I did it,” she said “My height comes in handy, but I have to work as hard as everyone else.” Her comfort level with the Thunder has made Curtis much more comfortable in her own skin. She has come to accept her height as a blessing, even though buying clothes can be a challenge. Finding jeans with a 37-inch inseam and size 12 shoes is not that easy for a teenage girl. She has also gone from wondering why people stare at her when she is out and about to ignoring them. “I don’t care what people think,” she said. “I’ve always gotten that attention, but it’s not a big deal to me.” With Curtis on the team, Grant no longer has to wait for games to face players who tower above her. “Her height helps me because it makes practice more realistic,” Grant said. “She’s really trying.” Ferraro is investing time to teach Curtis because he believes it will pay off in the next two seasons. “I can’t wait to see what she can do down the road,” he said. “I think she’s going to be a player.”