Casey Harter

School: Souderton




Favorite athlete: Kobe Bryant

Favorite team: Sixers

Favorite memory competing in sports:  Our Christmas tournament in Tampa this year.

Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Tripping and falling on nothing in the middle of the court.

Music on playlist: Rap

Future plans: Play basketball at Northwestern University

Words to live by: “See the good.”

One goal before turning 30: Find a career that I love.

One thing people don’t know about me: My favorite drink is milk.

By Mary Jane Souder

Casey Harter is an offensive player’s worst nightmare.

Just ask Katie Yoder or, for that matter, anyone who has been the focal point of the Souderton senior’s defense. The Pennridge senior was one of the SOL’s top scorers, averaging over 18 points a game during a standout season and routinely put up big numbers.

Except when she faced Harter.

In three games against Souderton this year, Yoder – with Harter assigned the task of containing her - averaged just over nine points and had her lowest point output of the season in Pennridge’s opening round loss to Souderton in the SOL Tournament when she scored only five points.

“It definitely was not fun,” said Yoder of going against Harter. “She stays with you all the time – no matter where you are, she’ll always be there. As much as I tried to get away, she’d still be there.

“She uses her length to her advantage, she’s super athletic, super quick and she doesn’t foul. She knows where to be at the right time, and she has a super high IQ for defense.”

The list of players Harter has haunted during a four-year varsity career is a lengthy one. Since she stepped on the court as a freshman, the senior point guard was assigned the task of defending the opposing team’s top offensive weapon.

“I was a freshman with a bunch of seniors, and the first game I probably started on the other team’s best player,” Harter said. “From there, all four years, defense was my thing, and this is where it got me.”

Where it got Harter is a scholarship to play basketball in the Big Ten for Northwestern University.

“Defense always carried over to the offense, and the offense came around, but it definitely always starts on the defensive end for me, and that’s also huge with Northwestern,” Harter said. “The coaches see that, and that’s honestly part of the reason why they recruited me and why I picked there because they’re a defensive team and they take pride in it, so it works.”

In her 19 years at the helm, Souderton coach Lynn Carroll – whose team’s defense has been its calling card - has had her share of players who have excelled on the defensive end.

“Defensively what Casey could do when guarding the other team’s best player - she’s at the top of the list in terms of defenders we’ve had,” the Indians’ coach said. “She’s just incredible. She started every game of her career except the Springfield-Delco game in playbacks this year when she didn’t play (due to an injury).

“We had her playing kids like Maddie Burke who was a senior at CB West when Casey was a freshman (and is now playing for Villanova University), which just goes to show you the belief that we had in her that early on in her career. That continued for four years.”

What makes Harter so effective?

“It’s obviously the length and the speed and all that stuff you need to defend at that level, but it’s the desire – that’s what makes it happen,” Carroll said. “She never takes a play off, never. She’s physically able to do that because she takes care of her body. She’s training in the offseason, lifting weights. She’s always in shape, so that allows her to go and play the way she wants to play.”

The total package

If Harter was only a standout defender, she would be special, but the 5-10 senior point guard elevated her offensive game every year and is able to score at all three levels. That improvement didn’t just happen.

“At this point, everybody is well aware of the effort that she put in during the offseason from one season to the next,” Carroll said. “Anyone who has followed our program at all – it’s extremely obvious, and anything that was determined to be a weakness, she made sure by the next year it wasn’t anymore.

“Offensively is one of the biggest areas. To say she was a hesitant shooter as a freshman and sophomore – that’s probably not strong enough of a word. From then to what she is now – this season she didn’t hesitate to shoot ever when she thought it was a good shot.”

As a freshman, Harter had just 29 three-point attempts in 28 games. She made seven (24 percent).

“It takes a lot of time, a lot of work,” she said. “Freshman year I barely shot 3s. If you look at the stats, I barely shot, and it wasn’t a good percentage.

“Every year from there, I went into the offseason, and I knew what I had to do to become a threat. I had to have a perimeter shot because I already was driving (to the basket). That was kind of my motivation to be an all-around player, and I knew that was part of the game that was my weakness, and I worked in the offseason with my trainers, and my parents helped improve that, and it worked out.”

Carroll, for one, is not surprised.

“The first time I saw her play was when she was in middle school, and the first thing that stood out was just the God-given stuff,” the Indians’ coach said. “Even at that age – her speed and her length, she was head and shoulders above everyone else.

“She just had that ‘it’ factor, that competitive edge. You could see it in everything she did. It’s a coach’s dream when you see a kid like that, and she comes into your program.”

While numbers can often be misleading, Harter’s tell the story of her dramatic transformation from timid freshman to confident senior.

As a freshman, Harter averaged 7.4 points a game and earned All-SOL honorable mention. Three years later, the gifted senior averaged 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. She connected on 51.8 percent of her shots from 2-point range and 37.2 percent from beyond the arc. She is an 82.4 percent foul shooter and is the consummate floor general.

Adding an exclamation mark to a stellar career, Harter surpassed the 1,000-point mark this season.

“It’s funny because freshman year I had a conversation with one of my teachers, and he said, ‘One thousand points – is that one of your goals? Is it going to happen?’” she said. “I was like, ‘Heck yes, that’s one of my goals,’ but then sophomore year was the COVID year and the season was shortened.

“I was like – ‘Is it going to happen now, I don’t know.’ Honestly, it became realistic end of junior season. I didn’t really want to think about it because I knew it would come if it came, but it’s awesome.”

Harter surpassed the elusive milestone in her team’s win over Council Rock North in early January.

“Casey had 400 points last season, and that had been the most in one season in my tenure,” Carroll said. “She surpassed that this year with 467 and is the third leading scorer all time in our program. Yes, I foresaw this. I knew what she was capable of doing. If there were any doubts, her junior season quieted all the doubts.”

In addition to becoming a long-range threat, Harter developed a mid-range game.

“Part of our issue last year as a team was we were either taking 3s or we were finishing at the basket,” Carroll said. “We didn’t really have anybody that was going to take and make stuff in the paint, mid-range shots.

“She shot so consistently on pull-up jumpers and floaters in the paint, and it made such a huge difference how teams had to defend us this season. I’m really, really happy she was able to score her thousandth point. She earned it through work and drive. The level of confidence she played with this year is a direct result of preparation. She felt prepared because she knew she had put in the time to earn that amount of confidence. I think it showed on the court every night.”

A baller from the beginning

It’s hardly a surprise that Harter has a passion for basketball. She grew up in a basketball family. Both her parents played collegiate basketball – her father Mark played at Kutztown University and mother Angie at Cornell University. Casey went the usual route, joining the local SHYBA rec league and from there travel and AAU.

“My older brother was the first one - he started doing training and I eventually got into that too,” Harter said. “I probably started in second grade playing in rec leagues on teams with the seniors now, so we have been together that long.”

Carter also played lacrosse and softball through middle school.

“I never picked one to be more serious than the others,” she said. “I just wanted to play them all.”

In sixth grade, Harter tried out for – and made – the Perkasie Knights AAU squad and played up a grade on the seventh grade team, again with some of her Souderton teammates.

“At that point, I was serious about it, but I wasn’t that good,” she said. “Eighth grade is when I decided – this is what I want to do and make a future out of it. I decided to try out for the Comets and made the team. That’s where I started really putting the work in.”

Harter remained with the same AAU team and played for the same coach the last four years.

“Eighth grade is when I seriously started training, and ninth grade I was with a trainer all the time, putting work in,” she said. “My parents would rebound for me at the YMCA. I would get shots up.”

The end result has been the opportunity to be a scholarship player in the prestigious Big Ten.

“Honestly, my dream was just to play Division 1 basketball,” she said. “Seventh, eighth grade year I was like, ‘Wow, that’s what I’d want to do.’

“If anyone had said freshman or sophomore year I’d be going to Northwestern, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy,’ and it is crazy. I remember my high school coach said – ‘A Division 1 school wants to talk to you,’ and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really happening.’”

Manhattan was the first Division 1 school to contact Harter, and in the end, she narrowed her list of seven schools to three – Northwestern, Providence and Harvard, which were also the last three schools she visited.

“Northwestern was last and was one of the last offers,” Harter said. “At first, I thought about it – it was further than I wanted, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I visited the other two and took a visit to Northwestern the week after. It was such a different vibe. A lot of the coaches and people on campus refer to it as family and the family culture, and I really just felt it there. It was just different than the other schools.

“The academic school that it is and then playing big-time basketball - you can’t beat that. Also being on the campus on Lake Michigan. Honestly, it was just perfect.”

Academics have always some first for Harter, who is an honors student and member of the National Honor Society. She is uncertain of her major but is interested in chemistry and the sciences. She is a member of the school’s athletic leadership council as well as several clubs.

Harter’s high school basketball career came to an end when the Indians fell to Central York in the opening round of the state tournament. Injuries – including an ankle injury that sidelined Harter for a week late in the postseason – caught up with the team.

“Honestly, that was a really good game to finish out on – double overtime,” Harter said. “It was a hard-fought game, and it sucks to lose that way, but we’re not mad about the game.

“It was going to happen at some point. We were all playing together since basically we were babies. It’s obviously going to be sad, but honestly, the memories we made over the four years especially this year and last year – it was the exact same team.

“We got back-to-back conference titles, we got pretty far in districts but came up short in states both years. But we all fought, we played together as a team. We all knew what we wanted. It was obviously a successful season no matter the state results.”

Carroll believes Harter’s ceiling is high at the next level.

“She’s already doing college workouts that her coaches have sent,” the Indians’ coach said. “She hasn’t been required to start them. I keep telling her she needs to take time off, but she just can’t. She’s go, go, go with her drive.

“She’s only going to get better. She extended her range this year to college range. Anything they ask her to work on, she’s going to work on. I can’t emphasize enough that it is the drive – if every kid had her drive, then every kid meets their potential whatever individually their potential happens to be. If they have Casey’s drive, then they’re going to get there, and it’s just an incredible example to have in our program.”

Listening to Carroll tell it, Hater’s success on the court is just the beginning.

“I wonder where Casey will be 10 years from now,” the Indians’ coach said. “She’s got it all – she’s incredibly smart, incredibly talented, incredibly driven. She can be whatever she wants to be.”