When a team loses six seniors, three of them starting, they could be in for a long season. That is, unless they have some players ready to step up. For the Abilene Cowboys, one of those players is Keil Kelly.
“I help out my teammates as much as I can,” Kelly said. “Try to be a positive role model for them.”
The Cowboys have only lost seven games this year and all but two were to ranked teams. They, themselves, are ranked tenth in 4A division one. The leadership of their returners has played a role in their winning season.
“As a coach you’ve got to have some kids that our acceptable to young kids coming in and patient with them, and they’ve done that,” head coach Terry Taylor said. “Both Keil Kelly, Jesse Patrick, our two returning starters, have realized they needed some young guys step up and play at this level.”
Kelly has transitioned from being a very athletic support player to one of the team’s leaders and is the leading scorer this year on the team averaging about 17 points a games.
“In all my years of coaching, Keil is probably the best finisher I’ve ever coached,” head coach Terry Taylor said. “As far as taking the ball to the dribble and attacking the rim, he just has a knack for scoring the basketball.”
That skill is something he’s developed over time. Kelly spends time outside of practice, working on his shot and ball handling.
“I don’t want to limit myself,” Kelly said. “I want to push myself to see how much better I can get over the years and see if it pays of for me.”
It’s not just the points that helped Kelly become a leader, it’s also his experience. He moved up to the varsity level in his freshman season and began starting some games his sophomore year.
“I think it helps a lot, because I’m used to the tempo,” Kelly said. “Going from JV to Varsity is a big jump. It’s a lot faster.”
His ease and comfort on the court is something the average fan can pick up on. During games he usually has a smile on his face. It’s a personality trait that stays with him when he is not on the floor.
“If you walk around the halls of Abilene High School, you’re probably not going to find very many people who don’t have a smile or something positive to say about Keil Kelly,” Taylor said.
Basketball has been with Kelly since fourth grade and he isn’t ready for it to be over just yet, he hopes that after his last year as a Cowboy he will get the chance to put on a different uniform for another school, but before all that he wants to try to help lead his team back into the state tournament.