EVEN-KEEL KELLY: Moniteau Star Guard Has Been a Consistent and Steady Presence for the Warriors
If things are going wrong, Catherine Kelly puts her head down and gets to work.
The junior guard on the Moniteau girls’ basketball team doesn’t get too high or too low.
There’s even keel and then there is Kelly.
(Catherine Kelly has scored 939 points in her career/photo by Kathy Sutton)
“I’ve always been able to do that,” Kelly said. “It’s definitely gotten better as I’ve gotten older and have had more time and experience playing.”
She’s only in her third season, but she plays like a grizzled veteran on a team that features five junior starters and a sophomore playing big minutes off the bench.
Kelly has always been mature and wise beyond her years.
It’s one of her calling cards.
Kelly has an older brother, Nathan, and an older sister, Carolyn, but many think she is the eldest because of a demeanor that belies her youth.
“I’m the youngest in my family, and I have two siblings who are both in college,” Kelly said. “They’ve definitely taught me a lot. I’ve always been more mature.”
That serves her well on the basketball court where Kelly is the reliable star who sets the tone for the team.
“It definitely helps me be more of a leader for my team,” Kelly said. “I just know how to build everyone up when we are down in games and just be able to keep us going and get us going again.”
Kelly has gotten the Warriors going a lot this season.
She’s leading the team at 15.3 points per game and the baskets have come in a variety of ways. Kelly is a dangerous shooter from the perimeter, but can also slash to the hoop and either finish or draw fouls and sink free throws.
In her third season as a starter, she has 929 career points.
“She’s a gamer. She loves to compete,” said Moniteau coach Dee Arblaster. “She’s gonna do whatever it takes.”
That includes finding ways to get open. Opponents have set out more this season to stop Kelly, but she has been able to adapt. So has Moniteau, which has a solid cast around Kelly, all of whom are capable to having big games on any given night.
“I knew teams were gonna definitely try to stop me from the outside because I shoot pretty well from out there,” Kelly said. “Over the offseason, I worked a lot on driving to the hoop and trying to be able to finish through the contact.
“My teammates have actually helped me out a lot with that by hitting their shots, which allows me to drive,” Kelly added. “That kind of takes the focus off of me and opens things up for all of us to score.”
Kelly has helped Moniteau have one of its best seasons in several years. The Warriors are 18-6 heading into a District 9 Class 2A semifinal showdown with Coudersport on Tuesday at Brockway.
Moniteau won 11 straight games in the middle of the season.
Three of the Warriors’ six losses this season have come to one-loss Redbank Valley, which will take on Keystone in the other Class 2A semifinal, also on Tuesday at Clarion Area High School.
Two of those setbacks to the Bulldogs came in an eight-day span, the final one in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference championship game.
Moniteau has lost three of four heading into the D9 playoffs.
“It’s a long season. A grind,” Arblaster said. “We have a couple of kids who have been sick off an on and multiple kids with just some aches and pains. We just haven’t played well the last two weeks.”
Kelly has battled her fair share of those aches and pains.
Early in the season, she had a hip and hamstring issue.
It didn’t slow her down much, however.
“I worked with a physical therapist and my athletic trainer just to strengthen all those muscles around my hip and it’s gotten a lot better,” Kelly said. “Now the wraps I wear are just precautionary so nothing like that ever happens again so it’s not like a nagging injury.”
What is nagging Moniteau and Kelly is this late-season slump.
They are hoping a week off will do a world of good.
“We can rest all the bumps and bruises we have,” Kelly said. “We needed it to work on our defense and play a more up-tempo game and push the ball. We need to box out and control the boards because we’re not the biggest team. A lot of teams are bigger than us.
“The KSAC championship game was definitely not the outcome we wanted,” Kelly added. “It definitely gave us a lot to work on and we’ve been working on things. Hopefully, we can get back to another championship game.”
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