Lewis cager star goes from driveway to driven
At some point, Jessica Kelliher might run out of basketball awards to earn.
Until then, she looks to continue to collect them on a regular basis. This offseason, Lewis University's star sophomore forward — who already had been named the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Player of the Year — was named to the Division II Conference Commissioners Association All-Midwest Region first team, according to a report on the Lewis athletic website.
“Its very exciting to be recognized through these postseason honors,” Kelliher told the Will County Gazette in an email interview. “It's a cool thing to experience as a player, but I wouldn't have earned any of the honors or success that I've had without my team. I like to think that these awards can be attributed to them, too.”
Last season with the Flyers, Kelliher was GLVC Freshman of the Year, earned all-region honors, and was the first freshman placed on the All-GLVC first team since 1999, among her numerous other accolades.
Kelliher, a native of Waukesha, Wisconsin, said she grew up in a basketball family, and her earliest memories of the sport are playing with family and neighbors in a driveway until it got so dark they couldn't see.
Kelliher said she has grown to love the team aspect of the game the most.
“Bonding with your teammates and being able to compete together is easily my favorite part," she said. "It's a lot of fun."
That all set the foundation on which she built one of the great high school careers in Wisconsin history. Kelliher graduated with the 15th-most career points in the state (2,012). Along the way, she was named the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Division II Player of the Year and Classic 8 Conference Player of the Year.
She said she chose Lewis because she liked the school's size as well as the smaller classes.
“As far as basketball goes, I was drawn to the success the team had in the past few years, and loved the coaching staff and the team, which just made the choice easier," Kelliher said. "They made me feel comfortable here."
In her last two seasons with Lewis, Kelliher said she has a lot to work on.
“I want to continue to expand my game outside of the post -- improve my outside shot and ball-handling skills," she said. "That, and continuing to work on finishing with my left hand in the paint."
Lewis guard Jamie Johnson also earned All-Midwest Region first team status. A senior, Johnson ended her Flyers career as the program's all-time leading scorer, with 2,059 points.