By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

When it came to picking a school to continue her basketball career, McNary High School senior Kaelie Flores went with the one that stuck by her.

“Central Washington University has been looking at me since I was in eighth grade, and they’ve stuck by me the entire time I’ve been developing as a player,” Flores said. “I like how supportive they’ve been of me and of their student athletes.”

Flores signed a letter of intent to play for the Division II Wildcats during a ceremony held Tuesday, Nov. 17, at McNary.

She made a second visit to the school last weekend and coaches at the school were already prepping her for the role she’ll play on the team.

“They’re thinking a small forward, but they were already walking me through their system and sat me down with video to show me the types of players I would be defending against. It was pretty cool,” Flores said.

Flores’s senior season is just starting, but she was a steady contributor as a junior -– averaging 13 points per game and five rebounds.

Kaelie Flores (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Kaelie Flores (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Derick Handley, head coach of the McNary girls basketball program, said the biggest recent change in Flores’s game is being more aggressive offensively.

“That’s come about because she’s realized she can be the scorer and the team leader and that got her the looks she needed to draw attention,” Handley said.

While she is an asset on the court, Handley said she is just as instrumental off of it.

“She’s the goofy leader that can bridge the gap between the coaches and the players when things are kind of intense. She understands the team attitude and picks up on the right thing to say to loosen the team up,” he said.

Flores plans on pursuing a major in a medical field, but hasn’t cemented her choice as yet. In the short term, she said, her focus will be on improving her game.

“I definitely need to get in college shape for basketball, work on my shot and work on my moves in my position,” Flores said.