Timberwolves' chaos calmed by Kelly
HUNTINGTON -- Sitting in the chairbacks of Cam Henderson Center at Marshall University before practice got under way Friday afternoon, Spring Valley sophomore point guard Sarah Kelly analyzed each of her teammates.
The phrase "she can get out and run" popped up more than a few times.
The Timberwolves, who will play their first game in the Class AAA girls state basketball tournament Wednesday night against Capital in the Charleston Civic Center, operate in a controlled state of chaos.
And the one who provides the control portion is typically Kelly.
"We hardly ever set up a half-court offense because of our pressure defense, we look to convert from that, get our steals and push the ball," Kelly said.
After a turnover, the chaos kicks in, and Kelly's eyes light up looking to make a pass, sometimes throwing the ball from one foul line to the other trying to hit an open teammate.
"I just pray they go where I want them to go and that my teammates catch them," Kelly said with a laugh. "We're an upbeat team, a really energized team on the floor and we want to have fun."
Kelly has 172 assists this season, roughly seven per game, and coach Bo Miller has said multiple times Kelly could have more if her teammates would convert more of the layups they see after the pass.
But Kelly can also score. She averages a shade more than 10 points a game, making her the second-highest scorer on the team behind sophomore Madison Morris, who averages 18.
Kelly said she looks for the pass first, but doesn't mind pulling the trigger if she's got a good look.
At times, Kelly will simply decide to take control of a game, like in the sectional final when she put up a one-player run against Logan, driving to the basket for three straight scores in the second half.
"Very few people can guard her one-on-one, so she's usually able to go get that basket when we need it," Miller said.
"If I can beat her on the dribble, I'll take them," Kelly said. "If help comes I'll kick it out, it just depends on who is guarding me."
Miller said he feels like he's got a special point guard in Kelly, adding that her role on Spring Valley's high-profile volleyball team has made her more mature than her years, so she doesn't get rattled.
"She's good, she's one of the best in the state," Miller said. "And when she gets her shot going, she's really good.
"She knows when to get people involved and when to take over."
Miller said Kelly is no slouch on defense, either. She has 85 steals in the season, and often asks to guard the opposition's best scorer.
"We usually let her, as long as she stays out of foul trouble," Miller said.
"Sarah is one of the best ball players we have on the team," said Mackenzie Morris, older sister to Madison and one of two senior starters in Spring Valley's lineup. "Just the way she sees the floor, and she makes quick, sharp passes that let us get out and running. Defensively she's huge for us, because, when we need someone to stop the best player on the other team, she's usually the one who steps up and does that for us."
Spring Valley looks to be a tourney favorite with Greenbrier East being upset by Capital in the regionals. When Capital and Spring Valley last met, the Timberwolves won at home 70-40. But that was in January, and Kelly said the team isn't taking anything for granted.
"We can't overlook any teams, we can't take anyone lightly," she said. "We have to show up and be focused and ready."