Grant hopeful of state championship at Basil’s

Kelly Grant has helped St. Basil’s reach the state playoffs with a perfect record. CONTRIBUTED

A quick look at Kelly Grant, and you might think she wouldn’t hold her own on the basketball court.
Grant stands 5 feet 4, and many of her opponents tower over the St. Basil’s Academy High School junior. But the second they take her lightly, they’re probably realizing they made a mistake, because on the court, she makes things happen.
“I do think some people look at my size and think I’m not going to be very good,” said Grant, who lives in Rhawnhurst. “I just play and have fun. I try and use my quickness to make up for my size.”
Grant is quick.
She’s also all heart.
On offense, Grant doesn’t need to be the biggest player on the court. A first-year starter, she runs the offense to perfection, which is why the team sits at 26-0 on the season. But she’s also a tenacious defender who not only can keep her opponent from filling up the stat sheet, she’s not afraid to take one for the team.
“I love taking charges,” Grant said. “It’s something I did and it hurts sometimes, but it’s something you have to do if you want to win. I’m not afraid. You just get ready for it.”
Grant is now ready to help the Panthers go as far as they can in the state tournament.
The Panthers head into the tournament next week with an unblemished record, but that doesn’t mean much once they start playing.
They won the District 1 championship on Feb. 23 when they downed New-Hope Solebury 63-37, so they enjoyed a nice break before they get back on the court this week. But just because they didn’t have a game on the schedule doesn’t mean they weren’t going all out.
“We had two days off after we won the district, but then we started practicing again and we’ve been really working hard,” Grant said. “And we’ve been practicing hard because of our bench. Even the players who don’t play a lot have been helping us so much in practice. Playing against them is harder than playing against anyone because they’re good, and they work so hard. Our bench is always a reason why we win.
“That’s the best thing about this team, it’s everyone doing it. Everyone helps. We have good players and everyone is working together.”
Together, they have put together an amazing run.
But things only get tougher from here.
The Panthers will begin their quest for a Class 3A state championship this week, and the road to the crown will be a bumpy one.
Two years ago, the team was in the same exact spot, going for a state championship with an unblemished record. That year was a great one, but it didn’t produce a state title banner.
This year, Grant and her mates have higher expectations.
“This year has been great, but one loss and it’s all over,” Grant said. “Being undefeated is great, but this year our goal is to win the state championship. That’s what we’re working for.
“We have a really good team this year.”
The team is playing well despite losing some very good seniors a season ago, when it fell to Neumann-Goretti in the state quarterfinals.
The Saints were one of the best teams in the area last year, so playing in that game, coupled with learning from the strong seniors, set the tone for this year.
“We were lucky to have great seniors last year,” said Grant, who came off the bench last year. “I learned so much by watching them. They were great leaders. They really helped us this year.”
Grant knows she has another year to get the Panthers into a state championship, and she hopes the team will be back in this position next year, but she’s not big on waiting.
Just like she does when she’s playing, she’s ready to take advantage of the opportunity in front of her.
“We’re working for this year,” Grant said. “Our goal is the state championship. It’s been a great year so far, but that’s definitely where we want to go.”
The only downside in making a long run in basketball is it means she’ll have to miss softball practice, which begins this week.
Grant started at outfield last year for Basil’s, and while she is looking forward to getting back, she hopes it’s after a long run in hoops.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to practice, but I’ll probably go and watch,” said Grant, who is also involved in community service projects at the school. “I’m more of a basketball player, I’ve played that my whole life. I’ve played softball, too. But I love basketball more.”
Which is exactly why she’s so hungry for that state championship.
“Every game is going to be tough,” Grant said. “Every team left is good. Every game is going to be hard. But we have a good team and the backups really helped us this week. We’re rested, but we’re ready.”