Sports

Girls basketball: Callaghan commits to Montana Western

South Kitsap senior Kelsey Callaghan, who guided the Wolves to a pair of state-tournament appearances in three seasons as their starting point guard, will play next season at the University of Montana Western in Dillon. - File photo
South Kitsap senior Kelsey Callaghan, who guided the Wolves to a pair of state-tournament appearances in three seasons as their starting point guard, will play next season at the University of Montana Western in Dillon.
— image credit: File photo

South Kitsap standout Kelsey Callaghan is headed to Big Sky Country.

Callaghan said this week that she will play basketball at the University of Montana Western in Dillon.

“When I took that visit, I just fell in love,” said Callaghan, who visited the campus in December while students were on break. “I didn’t get to see a bunch of kids, but I got a good look at the campus.”

A three-year starter for the Wolves, Callaghan helped South reach the Class 4A state tournament twice. She averaged 7.5 points, 5.7 assists and 2.9 steals per game this season. The Wolves finished with a 20-6 record and reached the second round of the  2011 state tournament.

Montana Western, an NAIA school, has experienced similar success during the last decade, but fell to 9-18 overall and 5-9 in the Frontier Conference this season. The Bulldogs featured just one senior, post Chloe Mosey from Bremerton. Montana Western reached the NAIA Tournament for eight consecutive seasons; its last appearance was 2007.

Callaghan said with as much experience as the Bulldogs are returning, she does not expect to start immediately. But the 5-foot-4 Callaghan does plan to compete for as much playing time as possible.

“It’s kind of a freshman rule not to really expect too much your first year,” she said. “You’re still getting into the rhythm of things.”

She said she bonded with several players on her official visit and was also impressed with Dillon, which had a population of 3,752 according to the 2000 census, and was named one America’s Prettiest Towns last year by Forbes magazine.

“It’s one of those towns where a lot of people go to the basketball games,” said Callaghan, adding that the 10-hour drive, which is close enough for family to visit while also allowing her to be on her own, was appealing. “It’s their entertainment.”

Callaghan, whose father, John, is the boys basketball coach at South, also plans to major in education and eventually becoming a physical-education teacher and coach high-school basketball. She maintains a 3.54 grade-point average at South.

“It really runs in my family to be a teacher,” said Callaghan, adding that she also has two aunts in the education field.

For now, Callaghan said she is focused on playing, which means getting some rest for now. She slightly tore meniscus in her right knee and missed five games in the middle of the season. Callaghan said she expects to be fully healthy when next season starts.

That is a thought she relishes – in addition to the opportunity to play another former South standout, Molly Werder, who was a freshman center at Montana Tech this season.

“She’s kind of mad at me because they’re rivals,” Callaghan said, laughing. “I can’t wait to see her.”

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