WEST – It is finally over.
For essentially her entire life, Kenslee Konarik had one coach. Regardless of the team she suited up for, Konarik’s maturation on the court is due to one person – her mother.
Thursday, their run together came to a conclusion at the inaugural Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl all-star girls basketball game.
Playing for the victorious Blue team, Konarik represented Salado under the leadership of longtime Salado head coach Diane Konarik, who served as a coach on the squad, and following the contest, each admitted it was a special moment.
“This really meant a lot to me,” Kenslee Konarik said. “She has been coaching me since I was in kindergarten and getting to have her as my coach in high school has really meant a lot. It is just really exciting to have been able to build a relationship with her beyond just mother and daughter.
“So, it was nice to have it end like this.”
Konarik finished with a game-high 14 rebounds to go with six points, four steals and an assist as the Blue team emerged with a 66-46 victory.
After trailing 15-12 to conclude the first quarter, the Blue team rallied to create a 26-26 tie by halftime and then took complete control of the contest with a 30-6 outburst spanning into the fourth quarter.
While it was an impressive showing, Diane Konarik was concerned with other aspects of the evening.
“This was an amazing experience,” she said. “It was awesome to be able to coach my daughter for four years in high school. Then to be able to do this in my hometown at my alma mater in the first Victory Bowl girls basketball game is just great.
“Things really came around full circle for me.”
The game, which is exclusive to recently graduated players from all University Interscholastic League classifications in Central Texas, caps off a standout career for Kenslee Konarik, who is accustomed to success.
Along with her showings on the volleyball court, Kenslee Konarik spent three seasons on the Lady Eagles’ varsity basketball roster, helping Salado produce a trio of playoff appearances.
In 2019, the Lady Eagles reached the Region IV-4A final, and they followed the run by capturing a share of the District 19-4A championship the following season, losing just one game in the process as Kenslee Konarik was named sixth man of the year.
One year later, she thrust herself directly into the spotlight.
Kenslee Konarik, who committed to play collegiately at Cisco, was named all-district most valuable player, and in the playoff opener against Austin LBJ, she proved the award was no fluke, recording a 32-point, 20-rebound double-double to go with nine steals.
Like the mother-daughter tandem, the contest also afforded a pair of Copperas Cove teammates one final game together.
Playing for the Red team, former Lady Bulldawgs Jordan McGhee and Samaria Bostick, who were each placed on the 12-6A All-District Second Team as seniors, were both starters. Bostick finished with a team-high 16 points, three assists and two rebounds, while McGhee had two points and a rebound.
Statistics, however, are inconsequential in the bigger picture as the event aims to bring together athletes for fellowship and community service by using sports as an avenue.
And Kenslee Konarik believes it delivered a memorable experience.
“This has been a lot of fun,” she said. “I was nervous at first, but I really liked it a lot and got to build friendships with people I never thought I would even meet before this. There was a lot of great chemistry, and I’ll be able to take these friends with me throughout college.
“I know they’d be there for me if I ever need anything.”