|Carissa Pratt of the Mehlville High girls' basketball team has built a reputation in the Suburban West Conference for consistently making three-pointers.
Stephen Glover photo|
Mehlville High girls' basketball team boasts of best three-point shooters in the area
There's the Queen of Hearts, the Queen of Diamonds and the Queen of Threes.
Although you may not find the Queen of Threes in your next deck of playing cards, the best way to catch her is by going to a Mehlville High girls' basketball game.
The Panthers' Carissa Pratt has made a name for herself as being one of the best outside shooters in the Suburban West Conference.
"Carissa's one of the premier three-point shooters in the area and she's also got a wonderful shot from inside the arc," Mehlville head coach Ed Feibig told the Call. "She's a great ball handler and she's probably my best defensive player right now."
Pratt has the ability to be the spark that gets the Mehlville machine running. In several games this season, she's hit several three-pointers in the first minutes of play.
Those key shots quickly can change the dynamics of any game for the Panthers.
"When we come out of the chute and she comes down and hits one or two threes at the beginning of the game, it does two things for us," Feibig said. "It fires up the rest of the team and they know that when she's shooting like that, it takes the pressure off of them.
"It also forces the other team to come out and guard her and open up the inside game for us. Without that perimeter game, teams can sag in on our big kids and they just won't have a chance."
Another aspect of Pratt's game that has been a key asset to the Panther's success in the past several seasons is her stout defensive play. In fact, the Panthers' head coach regularly assigns her to the task of shutting down an opposing team's top scoring threat.
"We've been putting her on the other team's best guard and trying to shut them down," Feibig said. "Her senior leadership is what we're counting on and she's coming through for us."
Basketball has been a passion for Pratt and she became a student of the game as a first-grader.
One of the intangible assets that Pratt possesses is her ability to play on a consistent basis and not make many mental mistakes.
"The most important thing is being consistent and not making mental mistakes," Feibig said. "With all the young kids we have, they look to her to see how to play the game.
"She always makes good passes and always make the right decisions," Feibig said. "She leads more by example than by the rah-rah stuff."
Despite being gifted with a good amount of natural talent, Pratt is known to spend entire afternoons during the weekend perfecting her outside shot.
It's not uncommon for the senior to launch 100 or more outside shots in her own version of a practice session.
"You really have to concentrate and act like it's a game situation," Pratt said. "It took a lot of practice. I've always liked to shoot from outside and it's one of my favorite things to do."
Yet the senior guard also excels in the classroom as a consistent member of Mehlville's honor roll.
Upon graduation later this year, Pratt has considered playing basketball at the next level.
But she would like to stay close to home and go to a school that would give her the opportunity to enter the medical field.
"I've thought about it (playing in college), but I'm not really sure as of yet," Pratt said. "I'd like to get into radiology or something similar to that."
Pratt and the Panthers will return to action after the holiday break at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, as they travel to Parkway Central for a showdown with the Colts.