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After months of anticipation, Kelly is finally on the court
Cal State Stanislaus women’s basketball player Alishea Kelly is quickly making a name for herself in the California Collegiate Athletic Association. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal
For awhile, it was getting too routine for Alishea Kelly. The Cal State Stanislaus women’s basketball player needed a change, as she was stuck only practicing with her teammates while her transfer eligibility was being completed.
Therefore, she was not allowed to see any game time.
The worst part was that the Warriors were eager to unleash Kelly, a 5-foot-9 guard capable of exploding in double-digit fashion. They finally got their wish a couple days before Christmas and Kelly cleared to play after six months of waiting. But Kelly had to wait some more, as the Warriors didn’t have a game until Jan. 2.
And the senior made quite an impression on her opening weekend, averaging 18.5 points and seven rebounds in losses to Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino. She then continued to impress, finishing for 26 points, nine rebounds, three blocks, two assists and four steals in a 93-64 thumping of first-year league participant Cal State East Bay on Thursday night that snapped a six-game losing skid.
“It’s been a lot of anticipation,” Kelly said. “It’s good to finally be able to be on the floor with my teammates. We work together all the time at practice. It’s nice to be able to contribute and play with them in games.”
It’s been a long journey for Kelly. And not just to her first official game, either.
It really started after she graduated in 2005 from Angelo Rodriguez High in Fairfield. She was uncertain about continuing with basketball. Her grades weren’t very good, and that affected her chances to play at the Division I level.
“I thought about starting my life as an adult,” she said. “Basketball wasn’t important to me anymore.”
Then someone convinced her to not give up. That someone was Matt Borchert, the women’s basketball coach at Solano Community College in Fairfield. He influenced her to give basketball another shot and, as she said, the coach ultimately “changed my life.”
The decision not only helped Solano to a conference title during her two-year stay but also helped Kelly in the classroom, as she was named to the All-Academic team. Her efforts were enough to land a roster spot on the women’s basketball team at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colo. She soon found herself unhappy there, however.
A lot of things happened, she said, including getting injured, seeing her head coach let go and having “conflicts on the team and the offices at that school.”
She got out. In June 2009, she was offered an opportunity by coach Sharon Turner — who suggested early on that Kelly is the best guard in the California Collegiate Athletic Association — to play for Stanislaus.
Kelly’s arrival has sparked hopes of the Warriors emerging as league contenders and returning to the CCAA Tournament. Her teammates like her quickness, her confidence and her ability to draw attention away from center Katie Busi, who often finds herself in double-team situations and unable to operate inside the paint.
“When they double, they have someone else to worry about,” Busi said. “She can go inside or outside, so they’re trying to focus on her now.”
And Kelly — who’s hard to miss with tattoos covering both arms, a sort of life map that is dedicated to her family and fallen friends — is glad to be here in Turlock. She hopes to see more playing time, considering her arrival was delayed quite a bit.
“I’m happy that I got a chance to play basketball for a school that I really like and for a coach that I really like, with teammates that I really like,” she said. “I’m disappointed I missed a few games of the season.”
It’s time to catch up. The Warriors are 2-7 overall and 1-4 in the CCAA, and play at UC San Diego at 5:30 p.m. today.
“Of course, we’re disappointed at our record,” Kelly said, “because we all know we’re better than what our record shows. But it’s not something that we’re going to dwell on. We have a lot of time to turn things around. I think that we’re moving forward, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.