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CG’s Delong signs with Rio Grande

COAL GROVE — Playing in and out will help Chelsea Delong play up.

Boasting an inside and outside game made Coal Grove Lady Hornets’ senior Chelsea Delong the kind of player Rio Grande RedStorm head coach Dave Smalley was looking for.

Smalley liked the versatility of Delong so much he signed her to a letter-of-intent Monday to play for the RedStorm women’s basketball team.

“That’s a big plus,” said Smalley. “Her perimeter ability to shoot the ball is a plus and her size will allow her to play inside, too. With the style and league we’re playing in, her diversity is a premium.”

The 5-foot-11 Delong spent most of last season on the perimeter, but heavy graduation losses forced her to spend more time in the center position this year.

“I need to make my (outside) shot better. This year I played a lot of post, so I need to work on both,” said Delong. “I got my feeling back for the inside this year.”

Smalley signed Delong because he believes she can make the transition to the next level whether it’s at forward or center.

“She comes from a good high school program and coach (Nick) Miller does a great job fundamentally and preparing his players,” said Smalley.

“With her size and strength, once she learns our system we look for her to play the four or five position. We’ll start her in the junior varsity program and see how she progresses.”

Miller expects Delong to become a contributor in the Rio Grande program.

“Chelsea really loves to play the game and she really works hard at it,” said Miller.

Delong — a third team all-district selection and first team All-Ohio Valley Conference — averaged 14.5 points per game and 8.3 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. Besides scoring inside, she also shot 30 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

Delong said there were several factors that drew her to Rio Grande.

“It’s a small school, it’s close to home and it’s a good place to play basketball,” said Delong. “I’m nervous but I’m excited. I need more competition. I need more of a push so I can get better.”

The RedStorm posted a 7-7 conference record in its first season of the Mid-South Conference. Delong knows the league is strong and that it will take time to work her way into the varsity lineup.

“They only have one senior, so I’d like to play jayvee and be considered varsity by the end of my freshman year,” said Delong.

The future RedStorm player plans to stay in the athletic field after college.

“I’d like to stay in sports. I want to teach and coach,” said Delong.