WHEELERSBURG — Wheelersburg senior Alaina Keeney has seen that hard work breeds success — both personally and in a team setting.
Now that her career in a Lady Pirate uniform has come to an end, the next step in her path will begin in Crestview Hills, Ky. — as a member of the Thomas More University women’s basketball team.
“It’s super exciting. It’s great to know where I’ll be going,” Keeney said. “I love the program, the players and coaches — it felt like a great fit.”
When Keeney arrives on campus this fall, she’ll be joining a program coming off its’ fourth National Championship in eight years.
The Saints won NCAA Division III National Championships during the 2014-15 (vacated), 2015-16, and 2018-19 seasons — and claimed its’ first NAIA Division I championship with a 77-65 win over Dordt University on March 22, 2022.
The level of success the Saints have seen over their recent history was reminiscent of her time as a Lady Pirate, Keeney said.
“As soon as I went on my first visit, I fell in love with it. I had been there a couple of times to watch games. It felt like home. Winning’s everything, that’s their mentality and their program reminded me a lot of ours here at Wheelersburg,” Keeney said. “The mentality and how they play were really appealing.”
Keeney’s versatililty on the court was what stood out about her game to the Thomas More coaching staff, she said. Saints coach Jeff Hans — who will be entering his 12th season at Thomas More next season — see various roles that the soon to be Wheelersburg grad can play at the next level.
“My size, the ability to score the ball at different levels on the court,” Keeney said. “They see me as very versatile and being able to play a number of different positions.”
The 5-foot-10 forward has helped accumulate plenty of hardware at ‘Burg, both personally, and for the program which was a force in southeast Ohio the last four years.
The Lady Pirates hold an active 59-game winning streak against Southern Ohio Conference Division II opponents, won four-straight SOC II titles, were Division III district champions three of her four seasons, and twice reached the Division III Regional Final (2019, 2021) as the best finishes in program history.
During her senior campaign in which she averaged 15.9 points per game, Keeney was SOC II Co-Player of the Year, a Division III first team all-Southeast Distict selection by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association (OPSWA), and a Division III third team all-Ohioan.
Keeney was also a two-year member of the Wheelersburg girls soccer team during her freshman and sophomore seasons.
“It was the hardest goodbye I had to say. Love my teammates, my coaches — I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Keeney said. “We had good runs every single year, had a great career and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Keeney plans to pursue a degree in nursing upon enrolling at Thomas More this fall.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved