A routine layup will be fondly remembered by Westminster Christian Academy senior Kiley McKee.
The Wildwood native topped the 1,000 point plateau in her high school career with the Wildcats on the basket.
The big bucket came in a recent home game against Lutheran South.
“At first, play continued until a foul was called and then they stopped the game. My teammates and our coaches were so excited as was the crowd,” McKee said. “It was really special for this to happen on our Westminster home court. It was something that I will always remember, my classmates had “1,000 point” signs and the crowd went crazy.
“There is nothing like the Westminster community. We get such amazing support from students, parents and teachers, it is really a special place.”
Coach Shannon Lawrence said she is happy for McKee.
“It takes a lot of hard work and determination from her, and our entire team,” Lawrence said. “We have a strong group of upperclassmen that have demonstrated grit and resiliency over the last few years, when it hasn’t always been easy. ”
Reaching 1,000 points at Westminster was a goal McKee set for herself.
“It is incredibly special. It has been a goal of mine since my freshman year,” McKee said. “I feel very blessed to have accomplished this and could have never have done it without amazing teammates all four years and great coaches.”
She is the seventh girl at Westminster to hit the milestone.
Here are the others: 2006-2007 Katie Maurer, 2011-2012 Courtney Powell, 2012-2013 Sadie Stipanovich, 2014-2015 Charisse Williams and Adrienne Horn and 2015-2016 McKenna Montgomery.
Basketball is a family legacy for McKee.
She is the granddaughter of the late Larry Atwood. Her grandfather was a legend in Springfield. He is a member of Missouri Sports Hall of Famer. He won 545 games coaching at various high schools in southwest Missouri. He won a state championship 1965 at Buffalo.
So, basketball was something she wanted to do. She likes the sport.
McKee takes pride in her game.
“I have always felt it important to play really hard defense,” McKee said. “I think my strengths are defense and my ability to get to the basket. I also have worked hard on free throws. My grandfather was a coach and he used to say that free throws win games, and that has always stuck with me. “
McKee, who also plays tennis for the Wildcats, is a four-year starter at Westminster.
“I have started on varsity since the beginning of my freshman year,” McKee said. “I think that the experience of starting as a freshman was key in my development, and every year since has built on each other.”
Lawrence remembers McKee’s first season with the Wildcats.
“She came in as a freshman as a feisty competitor who was not afraid of a challenge,” Lawrence said. “There were actually three freshman on varsity Kiley’s freshman year. Kristen Keys and Claire Sanden were freshman on varsity as well. It wasn’t easy for any of them, but they had great attitudes and just kept working and competing.
“We struggled to win games, but there were many little W’s along the way that were building blocks for the future. I am thankful that they were tough enough to continue to fight and play hard. We only won three games in their freshman year, but we did not practice or prepare like a team that was defeated. Every day they brought their very best for one another and our team.”
McKee kept getting better. Playing over the summer helped her improve her game.
“I had a pretty good year my sophomore year and then over the spring and summer, I played on STL BlueStar (a club team), which I believe really helped my game and set me up well for my junior year,” McKee said.
Going into her final season, McKee wanted to have a good year with her team.
“My expectations for the team have been high, as I came into the season knowing that we had a shot at having a successful year,” McKee said. “I’m really proud of what we have accomplished as a team. For me, I wanted to be a good leader and support the team well, especially the freshmen to make them feel comfortable at the varsity level.
“I had great role models during my freshman and sophomore years and I wanted to do the same. I think the team worked really hard over the summer and fall months to build team chemistry. We had some new players on the team and it was important for us to learn to play together.”
Lawrence likes what McKee brings to the team.
“Kiley has continued to grow each year in her physical and mental toughness,” Lawrence said. “Kiley is aggressive to the basket and has the ability to get to the line and knock down free throws. Kiley is also dangerous and hard to contain in transition.
“She has developed her decision making and skill set over the past three years, while also stepping up as a leader for us on the defensive end of court.”
McKee is one of the Westminster captain this season. It’s a role she takes pride in having.
“I love being a captain and think it is important to be supportive of my teammates. Our program goes beyond basketball,” McKee said. “We have done lots of team bonding and service projects which I think help bring us together as a team. We are committed to each other both on and off the court.”
Lawrence knew what she would be getting from McKee this season.
“We have expected Kiley to keep working hard and bringing her very best each day we have the opportunity to play,” Lawrence said. “Kiley is a great scorer, but the heart that she brings is one of her most invaluable qualities.
“As a senior, we have asked her to step up and lead the newcomers that have joined our team this year. All of our returning varsity players have done a great job creating a fun and welcoming team atmosphere.”
Westminster has begin district play. The Wildcats scored a 51-40 win over Visitation on Saturday. The No. 3-seeded Wildcats will play host Ladue, a No. 2 seed, at 5:30 p.m. Monday (Feb. 25).
It’s been a good season so far for McKee.
“I think I have played really well this year and have contributed to our winning season,” McKee said. “I am happy with what our team has accomplished so far and excited to see how far we can go in the postseason.”
McKee has played tennis all four years for the Wildcats.
“I love tennis. I had a really strong year my junior year,” McKee said. “(I) finished third in districts this year in singles.”
When basketball is over, McKee plans to play another sport. She will go out for the soccer Wildcats.
“(I’m) Not yet quite sure what position I might play. This is my first year playing at WCA,” McKee said. “I am really excited to play again. It’s been a while since playing for Lou Fusz (club) years ago.”
When she graduates, McKee will go to college but not to play.
“I decided last year to not pursue playing at the college level,” McKee said. “I am going to attend Clemson University and major in business.”
Lawrence said McKee has a 4.28 grade point average.
“Kiley is a wonderful student athlete – conscientious and very responsible,” Lawrence said. “Kiley has been a joy to coach over the last four years. She is kind, thoughtful, funny and genuine.
“Kiley is a great basketball player, but an even better person. I am thankful for the time we had with our 2019 senior class. We will definitely miss them next year, but we are excited to see what their future holds.”