Athlete of the Week: Karlee McKinney, Tea Area High School
2017 continues to be a stellar year for female basketball athletes in Southeast South Dakota. Anna Brecht broke the scoring record at Lincoln High School earlier this month, but Karlee McKinney made certain to welcome in the New Year a few days before 2017.
Karlee McKinney, a 5-foot-7-inch senior guard from Tea Area High School, is this week's Athlete of the Week.
McKinney made Tea Area High School history on Dec. 29, 2016 against a tough Vermillion Tanager squad. While dropping 21 points in a 57-52 overtime victory, McKinney became the first female Titan to score 1,000 points in a career.
Now, she's adding to her scoring record with each game.
Once referred to as the "Energizer Bunny," Tea's energetic playmaker spends much of her time around the game of basketball. Of course, it helps she has a coach at school and another one at home.
"In third grade, my dad got me hooked on basketball," McKinney said. "He was my coach until about seventh grade, but he still coaches me all the time. Or tries to."
Aided by an extra coach at home, McKinney feels her sophomore year was when she hit her stride as a playmaker and started to see her potential.
Despite the headway McKinney's made as an individual playmaker and scorer, her teammates serve as her greatest motivation.
"I want to get better for the team because the better I do, the more as a team we can come together," McKinney said. "I can help my teammates and they can help me. I just love the game and want to get better every time."
One of McKinney's favorite moments as a basketball player at Tea involved bucking a season-opening trend.
"Last year, the first game, we finally won it," McKinney said. "We never win our first game; we always lose it. There were like 10 seconds left and I drove, cut in and bounce passed it right to a teammate. The shot rolled around on the rim and just creeped in."
Tea's most prolific female scorer holds an assist as one of her fondest memories.
Basketball may be where McKinney's heart belongs, but her athleticism stretches beyond the basketball court and onto the field where she enjoyed a successful soccer career at Tea.
As McKinney finishes out her high school athletic career, she hopes to end the 2016-17 season with a winning record, including advancing deep into regional competition and beyond.
Already committed to the Mount Marty women's basketball program, McKinney has the chance to enjoy competitive basketball for several more years to come.
While McKinney isn't certain what specifically she hopes to study at Mount Marty, she's leaning towards the realm of pre-professional practice and physical therapy.
Congratulations to Karlee McKinney, this week's Athlete of the Week.