Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
California-Irvine’s women’s basketball program is undergoing a revitalization under third-year coach Molly Goodenbour, and the Anteaters are off to a 10-4 record this year following a 9-21 mark a year ago.
Helping to turn things around is former Terre Haute North standout Kelly Meggs, a freshman guard who has played in all 14 of the team’s games.
Meggs starred at North for three seasons on the soccer and softball fields in addition to the hardwood, but transferred to Bellevue High School in Washington last year when her father, Lindsay, left Indiana State to become the head baseball coach at the University of Washington.
Meggs averages 1.9 points and 0.9 rebounds in 13 minutes of action per game, but her most impressive stat is her 18-7 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Cal-Irvine started the season by losing its first three games, but things have turned around quickly since then.
“Our season has been really good so far,” Meggs said. “We've won some big games, starting on the road at San Diego State, and have won the last 10 out of 11 games. We just got a big win on the road at Cal State-Fullerton [Wednesday].”
Meggs had her best individual game in the win over Cal-State-Fullerton, being one of only three reserves to hit the court and scoring seven points at the free throw line in eight attempts.
“We're 2-0 in [the Big West] Conference right now, and are working hard to continue to stay on top of the pack,” she said.
The Anteaters are led by a pair of stars in 2010 Big West Freshman of the Year Jazmyne White and 6-1 post player Mikah Maly-Karros, an all-Big West Conference performer last year despite missing the first nine games after transferring from Loyola Marymount.
Maly-Karros tied a single-game school record with 41 points last season.
Experienced point guard Jade Smith-Williams adds stability in the backcourt.
“We’ll have people to put around Mikah,” Goodenbour said before the season. “Our freshmen guards we brought in [Kelly Meggs and Natalie Butler] will be able to back up Jade. We’re encouraged by the level of talent we’ve brought in.”
Meggs has mixed emotions about her senior year, enjoying returning to her West Coast roots but missing her Terre Haute teammates.
“My senior year at Bellevue was a great experience both on and off the court,” she said. “It was a tough transition, but a great test that I like to refer to as my "pre-college experience."
“I loved my basketball team and had a great end to my softball career, and was absolutely stoked to watch the THN Patriots softball team come in second in the state.”
Her older brother, Joe, will be eligible to play baseball for his father at Washington this spring after a stellar summer playing for the Terre Haute Rex, while her younger brother, Jack, is also a successful athlete at Bellevue.
• Conrady takes on new challenge – The Dec. 26 “College Report” contained an erroneous listing for Terre Haute South grad David Conrady among Wabash Valley area grads playing or coaching in college.
Conrady coached the past six seasons at Tennessee-Chattanooga, earning a promotion to associate head coach, but left the Moccasins last summer to become the national director of basketball for SCORE International.
SCORE is a Chattanooga-based mission organization that uses athletics to spread the gospel.
"Twenty-three years ago I went on a SCORE mission trip to Argentina with Coach [Ron] Bishop and it changed my life,” Conrady said. “It opened my eyes to the role of the servant leader and I hope to open today's kids' eyes to that same role in serving the Lord.”
Bishop has known Conrady since the mid-1980s, when the 6-1 sharpshooting guard took his talents to Furman University in South Carolina after leading the Braves to an appearance in the single-class “Elite Eight” in his senior year.
“I think David was born to do exactly what he's going to be doing,” said Bishop, who was doing television commentary on Southern Conference games while Conrady was at Furman. “He'll represent SCORE at the Final Four, at coaching conventions, and anywhere he believes he can help our mission trips with coaches and players. He'll also be involved in the lives of many more young people than he is now.
"This is a great day for SCORE International."
Conrady was previously coached at several small colleges, including North Greenville, Mars Hill and Presbyterian.
“SCORE gives me the opportunity to not just impact the 15 kids we have at UTC, but greatly increases my chances to impact young people across the globe," he said.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at email@example.com.