When she first made the decision to come to North Forsyth High School, Catherine Shope didn’t expect to be wearing her Raiders basketball uniform 17 days after her season ended, standing against a black backdrop and posing for photographs as the All-FCN girls basketball Player of the Year.
She’d never had her name in a newspaper at all. Shope was homeschooled and played for The King’s Academy in the GICAA her first three years in high school, and there weren’t many people watching or following those games. She’d contact college coaches, and while they’d recognize her talent, they’d struggle to get past the reality of her points coming against small-school competition.
“It kind of hurt me,” Shope said. “Like, come on, these girls are still good, and it still takes a lot to do good even at that level, to score that many points.”
But after this season, all of those doubts have been proven baseless. Shope didn’t just hang with Class 7A competition: She had one of the greatest offensive seasons in county history, averaging 18 points per game, shooting 44 percent on three-pointers and setting the Raiders’ single-season scoring record.
Shope and her family moved to Forsyth County from Woodstock for the specific purpose of her playing at North. They bought a house in the school’s attendance zone to make sure to leave no room for rules violations.
And while Shope’s decision to play her final year with the Raiders was one aimed at exposure, it didn’t necessarily affect her college recruiting process. She’s signed to play at Reinhardt, and Eagles head coach Lindsey Huffman first learned about Shope from her accomplishments in the GICAA.
But it was also about getting Shope ready for college competition, and she’s convinced that the move paid off. There were some differences, like defenders closing quicker on her jump shots and bigger post players making it tougher to drive to the hoop, but her adjustment period was quick. In the Raiders’ fifth game of the year, against Chestatee, Shope scored 39 points and set a program record with 11 three-pointers.
Shope certainly won’t stop working now. She’s kept at her routine of shooting hundreds of shots per day, either with a shooting machine or with her mother, Andrea, rebounding. Raiders head coach Eric Herrick brought Shope on as a scorer, and she expects to play the same role in college.
“It’s not just like you’re going to get into the gym for a couple of days and create a good shot,” Shope said. “It’s (work) over the years, hard work, extra shots – that’s what I think has made me a good shooter.”
Of course, Shope always knew that. Now, after a season that established her as one of the best scorers in the state, so does everybody else.