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Senior Profile: McKinley chomping at the bit for second championship
After watching her classmates win Northern Section titles on the softball diamond, Maxwell High's Kaily McKinley finally got a championship of her own her senior year on the volleyball court.
Now, she has her sights set on the basketball title, a test the senior-laden Panthers have been preparing all season for.
The Panthers entered Tuesday night's game against Colusa with a 12-5 record and sole possession of first place in the Mid-Valley League with a 7-1 record. Their only loss was against the RedHawks.
Loaded with seven seniors, including all five starters, McKinley hopes to make a deep run in the basketball playoffs. McKinley doesn't play softball, so when the volleyball team won the section title in the fall, it was her first section championship.
McKinley was an integral part of the volleyball team's title run, which was the first in school history. A dominant presence in the middle, McKinley earned all-league honors as her team lost just one match.
"I think the feeling of winning a section championship in volleyball really transferred over into basketball. We were pretty pumped up about winning and we want to do the same thing for basketball," McKinley said.
Blessed with height, athleticism and quiet confidence, McKinley is the reigning MVL basketball MVP and her presence on the court makes basketball coach Leo LaGrande's job quite a bit easier.
"She's a weapon, she's averaging right under 20 points a game and she's the best post player, in my opinion, in the league," LaGrande said. "She can take over a game when she needs to and she knows when she has to turn it up a notch."
She was offered a spot to play basketball with Feather River College in Quincy next year, but she is strongly considering forgoing her playing career and focusing on school at Chico State or Oregon State so she can become a veterinarian specialized in large animals with an emphasis on equine.
McKinley lives on a ranch in Sites and is an avid horseman, which helped inspire her to pursue a veterinary career.
Living so far from school is a blessing and a curse for McKinley. It means she leaves home at 7 a.m. and, when she's playing a sport, doesn't get home until after 7 p.m., but during her off seasons, she gets to spend her days riding and training her quarter horse, Duke.
"I do a couple gymkhana's and train my horse," she said. "He's 5 so he's really young so I'm still training him. He has a lot of problems and needs to be ridden a lot."
The long drives are part of the reason she doesn't play softball, having a season off to relax and spend time with her siblings and Duke.
Though she grew up in the foothills, she spent much of her childhood hanging out at Louis Cairo's Restaurant. Her mother, Cristy Edwards, owns the Williams landmark and before she bought it, she worked there.
"I kind of grew up there because when we were young she worked there already, so we always would fold silverware in the napkins," McKinley said. "We pretty much grew up there and everybody we knew worked there so it was cool when she bought it."
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 749-4789