December 18, 2015

Keathley a selfless winner

Kevin McCarthy

photo of Avery Keathley

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion”—Mia Hamm. With this sentiment in mind, Monte Vista Christian (MVC) senior Avery Keathley could see her name in the newspaper a lot more by scoring a greater number of points but that isn't what her team needs the most from her. So she gladly does what is asked.

At 6-foot-1 and coming off a second team, all league selection, Keathley displays her versatility by playing at guard, small forward and power forward the Mustangs. It's just four games (3-1 with no home contests as yet) into this season but her contributions tell the tale of what her team requires: 4.0 points (tied for fourth on the team), 6.0 rebounds (tied for first), 4.0 assists (second), 5.0 steals (first) and 2.0 blocks (tied for first).

Here's Bob Bramlett, Keathley's West Valley Basketball Club team coach, talking about her spring and summer play: “She has sacrificed scoring. For us, her assists were around 3-4 a game. Never less than 10 boards and 3 blocks. Averaged one turnover per game. She jumps center and plays guard. A glue player for sure. Players are better and her teams win at an 80% clip.”

Once a cheerleader and dancer back in Texas, Keathley dipped her finger into multiple sports—basketball, soccer, volleyball and track—before concluding hoops was it for her. “I wanted to try everything once.”

“I'm very competitive and I could learn and grow in it [basketball]. It's nothing I could ever be perfect at. It's not just a sport for me as anytime I can, I'll play.” So much so she played in an all boys league during in middle school.

Keathley sees multiple influences in her basketball growth. “My Mom for sure (Jennifer Keathley is the MVC head coach). As my Mom and coach, she coaches me not as her daughter. She has made me work for it and show I'm worthy enough to be on the court.” Such a healthy perspective in today's times of parents demanding a certain number of shot attempts for their kids is reassuring.

There is also Keathley's uncle, Derek Manner, who started at Notre Dame from 1994-1998. “I work with him to get better.”

Plus, “Bobby [Bramlett] obviously. [Playing for] West Valley has taught me a lot, learning where the holes in my game are and where I can improve.”

One certain skill, something impossible to quantify, is another Keathley strength. “I read the court well. I see things before they happen but it's more figuring out what will happen next rather than seeing it. If you understand your personnel, you'll know where they're going to be before they get there.”

Another area where Keathley has improved is “less emotional play. I used to beat myself up when I made mistakes.”

Asked to name some highlights or best moments of the last few years, she offered an intriguing example, one that both displays her ability to contribute wherever she is positioned and how the game unfolds for her. “Last year at Christopher High, our big rival, I was at the point and Donatella Macleod was running the post [at the time]. I threw an alley-oop pass to her.” Macleod stands 5-foot-7 yet it was a play that made sense due to what Keathley saw defensively.

She is looking to major in pediatric nursing and also has an interest in occupational therapy. Her grade point average is 4.0 weighted, 3.8 unweighted.

Keathley's expectations at the next level are “I'll most likely be a three.” That alongside doing whatever it takes to help her team win.