Lakeville North basketball coach Shelly Clemons hardly watched any of the Panthers girls’ soccer games this fall.

Not because of a lack of school spirit, but out of fear.

Clemons’ top player on the court was also Lakeville North’s best soccer player. The coach could not handle watching Temi Carda, a Ms. Soccer finalist, aggressively attack passing lanes and outjump defenders for headers.

Clemons was haunted by the idea of a potential injury to Carda, so she supported from a distance.

With fall sports over and Panthers basketball practice in full swing, Clemons is relieved that Carda, a senior, survived her final soccer season.

“She does the same things in soccer that she does in basketball,” Clemons said. “She is not afraid to put her body on the line by playing with her entire body and a full heart.”

Carda led Lakeville North in scoring last season, averaging 15.1 points per game, and earned all-conference honors as the Panthers reached the state tournament, losing 52-35 to Eastview in the quarterfinals.

On Nov. 9, Carda committed to play basketball at Creighton. She said the decision to pursue a future in basketball was one she made years ago.

“In sixth grade I missed a lot of AAU basketball because of soccer,” Carda said. “My dad told me I was going to have to pick one of them, and I remember yelling at him because he said I was never going to have to pick one.”

She quickly forgave her father because the choice was easy for her. She was lured in by basketball’s up-tempo style compared to soccer. She said her experiences playing summer basketball were something she could not relinquish.

As Carda begins her final season of Lakeville North basketball, teammate and fellow senior Olivia Bruce said the work ethic that makes Carda a Division I talent is something she emulates in all phases of her life.

Bruce also shared the soccer field with Carda, and the two are longtime friends. She said watching Carda be honored as a Ms. Soccer finalist is something she hopes Carda can experience in hoops as well.

Chasing a Ms. Basketball title is not something Carda hides from. But she knows getting there is no simple task. The Panthers play in one of the state’s toughest conferences.

Having former AAU teammates within the South Suburban Conference gives Carda insight into what to expect this season.

“Lyndsey Robson from Apple Valley and Rachel Ranke from Eastview are two very good players,” Carda said of her AAU teammates. “I know they are going to put in just as much work as I am because they are playing basketball in college also.”

Entering her fourth season coaching the Panthers, Clemons is eyeing a conference championship. To do so, Lakeville North will have to knock off defending conference champion Shakopee and Eastview, which finished third in state.

Clemons said she feels she has a one-of-a-kind weapon, which gives her the confidence to say something about Carda’s place among former Panthers alumni that she said tends to turn heads.

“She is the most athletic kid we have had come through this program,” Clemons said. “Whenever I say that, people ask about Rachel Banham. Banham is the best basketball player we have ever had, but Temi is by far the best athlete.”