The most impressive number about California Baptist University junior guard and Franklin native Cassidy Mihalko's season was not the 29-3 record the Lancers recorded on her watch, or the fact that she led the team in scoring in 19 of 32 games or that she had a streak of 28 straight games of scoring 10 or more points or even the fact that she went over 1,000 points for her career this year.
No, it may have been the fact that she estimated her mom, Diane, who works in the banking industry, still made it to about 75 percent of her games this season or that with a heavy workload of 18 credits this past semester and basketball to boot, Mihalko still earned a 3.9 cumulative GPA and is majoring in business administration.
After all, she was an Academic All-American last year.
And to cap it off this year, after a season in which she scored 638 points, averaging 19.9 ppg. of 53 percent shooting, including 47 percent from 3-point range (81 hits) and 85 percent from the foul line (95-112), as well as a 7.1 rebounds per game mark, she added a plethora of honors to her name. Those included first-team All-PacWest Conference, PacWest All-Tournament team, NCAA West Region All-Tournament team, All West Region and now honorable mention NCAA DII All-American status.
It was just another few steps up the achievement ladder for Mihalko, who was a 2013 graduate of Franklin, where she finished as the second-leading scorer in school history and earned All-State and All-Suburban honors.
'I never really thought that that was a possibility,' she said of the All-American honors. 'I know I did work hard this past summer, getting to the weight room and working hard on my shot.'
Mihalko was also at the top of Baptist's difficult-to-handle press, wreaking havoc when she could. What also helped, she said, is that last summer, she and three other Wisconsin-based Baptist teammates, Emily Schmidt (Ixonia), Olivia Weber (Delafield) and Emma Meriggioli (Madison), all played together in a highly competitive Wisconsin summer league.
'I think that really helped me gain confidence,' Mihalko said, 'because I was able to develop a more rounded offensive game. Last year, I was known as more of just a 3-point shooter, and when teams took away my outside shot, I struggled. But this year, I could drive to the hoop better and better. I was even able to make shots with my left hand.
'My confidence grew as I was able to do more things. And it was a fun year for the team. Everyone improved.'
Mihalko was a 2013 graduate of Franklin, finishing as the second-leading scorer in school history and earning All-State and All-Suburban honors.
She led the fifth-ranked Lancers to a great regular season, as they finished 27-1 overall and won the PacWest Conference regular season title. But they completed the campaign on a flat note, falling in the second round of the league tournament, and even more disappointing, ending their season with an overtime loss in the NCAA regional semifinals.
But Mihalko said that will only serve as motivation for next year, as the heart of the team is in the junior class (only one senior leaves the team).
The team will be leadership heavy, she said, and she's looking forward to playing her role.
'We don't have designated captains,' Mihalko said, 'but the coaches do look to me and (junior guard) Kamille Diaz for leadership. We all help each other out here.'
As she finishes up her junior year, she will continue to work hard in school and has kept herself busy with tutoring. She will continue to work on improving her shot and making her left hand stronger.