Kelly is now Stamford’s floor general
On the sideline after Alexa Kellner went down with a season-ending knee injury, Brooke Kelly cried with her teammates.
When she stepped back across the line onto the court the tears stopped and a switch flipped.
That night, she went 7-for-7 from 3-point land, leading the team to victory.
Before that night, Kelly was a good point guard, solid outside shooter and strong defender but a complimentary player, deferring to Kellner to be the leader on the court.
Kelly took over the leadership and scoring role immediately after Kellner left while the rest of the team has plugged the remaining holes.
That switch she flipped is still in the “on” position as Kelly has elevated her game in the absence of her fallen teammate. Not only becoming the leading scorer, but also the floor general.
Tuesday night against Danbury, Kelly was all of those things and more.
She again made seven 3s, finishing with 26 points, but it was her ability to manage the game and her team on the floor that made the biggest difference.
As a senior captain, Kelly knew more would be expected of her this season but it took the all-state Kellner going down to snap her into action.
Kelly said she is scoring more but it has been a collective effort without Kellner.
“I knew I had to step up but when Alexa went down it kind of forced me,” Kelly said. “It definitely gave me the push I needed. I have stepped up scoring wise but Andrea (O’Connor) has doubled her rebounds. Kelly (Jagodzinski) and I are in there rebounding now and we never really had to before.”
Kelly said she fell into the leadership role as she tends to run slightly less hot than the other players on the court but the entire team is picking up the slack.
“Our personalities are all kind of fiery and mine just happens to be the least fiery on the court,” Kelly said. “Everyone is stepping up and we are playing really well as a team right now. I don’t want to say we are compensating but we are all were forced to step up in some regard and everyone is doing that.”
Stamford coach Diane Burns thinks Kelly is motivated by the knowledge that a high school basketball career is fleeting.
“She knows she has to give everything she has all game. This is the end of her senior year and she is trying to make it as special as it can be,” Burns said. “It is her knowing she can’t defer right now to somebody else, she has to do it. You never know when your career or your season might end, so, you have to leave it all out there. I think she has that attitude now which you have to love as a coach.”
Burns went on to say that while she is obviously thrilled with the scoring output of Kelly, it is everything else she is doing that is leading to the team’s success.
“Her composure. She is always keeping everyone else focused on what is going on in the game,” Burns said. “Defensively she always takes the other team’s best player, if they’re a guard. She is helping everyone to understand what we are trying to get out of each possession and how to move the ball so those open 3s happen. She has been like a coach on the floor. She not only knows where everyone is supposed to be but she knows everybody’s quirks. So, she knows ‘oh this one is about to go off, I better go talk to her.’ She has been an extension of the coaching staff on the floor.”
Kelly and the rest of the Black Knights are currently sitting in fifth place in the FCIAC with a 9-2 league record. They are in the midst of a 5-game winning streak but face the teeth of the schedule now with games against Staples, Warde and Norwalk over the next eight days.
If everyone keeps doing their jobs and that switch stays on for Kelly, the Black Knights could be a dangerous team come tournament time.