Aianna Kelly brings great enthusiasm to her new job as girls’ basketball coach at Laurens District High School.
The ex-Presbyterian College player succeed Yoneko Allen, who stepped down after last year’s 3-17 team. The Raiders were 2-12 in Region 1-5A. This year they move to Region 2-4A.
“I see improvements with our team chemistry,” Kelly said. “We are getting used to playing together and finding a flow. Offensively, it's great to see the girls are understanding the different options we can create with our plays. We have shown great improvement during practice.”
As for the new alignment, she added, “Entering a new region, we just have to go out and compete every night. I tell the girls all the time we may not know what numbers we will have on game days so everyone needs to work hard and stay focused for when it may be their time to step up.”
The first two likely to step up are juniors Raniya Jackson (8.5 points, 3 rebounds, 2.2 steals per game) and Miquala Fortson (8.2 points, 2.0 assists). Jackson was all-region last season.
Asked to set goals for the season, Kelly said, “Get better every day and take advantage of the new opportunity every day to practice and play. We focus on bringing great effort and a great attitude when being on the court. We want to make sure we have grown as a team by the end of the season.”
Kelly sees excellent leadership in her players.
“Raniya Jackson shows great leadership through her great work ethic and competitive energy,” she said. “Qua Fortson and a few other returners (Navia Blanding, Macayle Revis) have been very vocal and helpful through practice this year, as well.”
The top newcomer is freshman Faith Jackson, Raniya’s sister, who has impressed Kelly with “her athleticism and skill level.”