KEARNEY — Caroline Kelly is extremely creative at scoring the basketball.
That’s not uncommon for a player that averages 20.4 points per game. But it’s fairly uncommon for Kearney’s 5-foot, 8-inch senior guard to find herself fighting for position on the low block.
It’s probably not surprising that that portion of her offensive game was also effective.
Kelly sealed off her defender and caught a lob pass in stride as she picked up a layup to earn 2 of her 33 points in the Bulldogs 48-30 win over Benton in the Class 4 District 16 championship game on Friday, March 6, at Kearney High School.
“We’d been working on that all week because we knew that they play deep into stuff and that we could get open down in the post,” Kelly said. “It just ended up flowing for me tonight.”
Her teammate Quinn Weakley has more experience with getting positioning on the block, but even she walked away impressed with Kelly’s technique in the paint.
“Oh, that was an A+, that was great,” Weakley said. “She worked on that high-low, ready for the lob and everything.”
Benton may have been able to keep the game close if Kelly’s interior play was the extent of her offense. Instead, Kelly made five 3-pointers and hit four of six free-throw attempts to outscore the opposition all by herself.
But she’s quick to remind people that her point totals are never achieved all by herself.
“I was able to score points because of my team,” Kelly said. “They were getting me the ball. We were making the plays so it was big, but I think it was all a team effort.”
The team dynamic is much more obvious on the other side of the ball as Kearney’s team defense continues to make life hard on opposing offenses.
Coach Troy Resler changed the game plan to a zone defense to counter what the team saw Benton do on tape in the Cardinals’ 53-44 win in the district quarterfinals against Smithville.
“The girls were really excited to (play zone),” he said. “They like playing zone better. I’m more of a man-to-man guy, but I like doing what works.”
The switch allowed the Bulldogs to hold the Cardinals to their lowest scoring total since losing to Blue Valley (Kansas) 36-27 in January.
Maddie Taylor finished with 6 points off of two first-half 3-pointers. Abby Couch scored 4 points while Kenzi Hoffman added a fourth-quarter triple. Weakley contributed 2 points with a first-quarter layup.
Kearney has won 22 straight games and has allowed 30 or less points in five of their last seven contests on the way to winning the district crown with a royal performance.
Story courtesy of Sports Writer Mac Moore and the Courier Tribune – Video courtesy 102.7FM – KPGZ