By Sean Rooney on January 12, 2017.
Early in her first high school basketball league game of the season, it was easy to spot Kaesha Milne.
Aside from being Hat High’s tallest player at six feet, the Grade 12 forward seemed to be everywhere on the court. Multiple steals, a blocked shot, running up and down the court as the Kwahommies amassed a double digit halftime lead on Catholic Central.
Her current coach was pleased. So was her future coach.
Just a couple hours earlier, Milne signed to play with the Mount Royal University Cougars in Calgary this fall.
“Kaesha’s actually our first signing of the year,” said Cougars coach Nathan McKibbon, who made the trip east before his team heads to play UBC this weekend. “We’re looking to build through youth and Kaesha was someone that we identified real early.”
With solid fundamentals and a good attitude, Milne will get a chance to play at the next level for a team that prides itself on exactly the kind of game Milne was showing off Wednesday. Kwahommies coach Jeff Harrold had his team pressing early and often, running the floor and getting lots of easy buckets.
As soon as Milne saw the (university) Cougars play, she knew it was the right fit.
“I’m so excited,” she said after signing on the dotted line. “I like the group, I like their style of play. I know they’re a rebuilding team, I just want to be a part of it, to get the success.”
Though 2-8 this season, Mount Royal — which plays in the Canada West conference of U Sports —has tremendous upside for a young player with an eye on an emerging team. McKibbon is only in his second season with the school. He first saw Milne last season a week before a provincial camp and was immediately impressed.
“She loves to get up and down the court, she loves to defend,” he said. “I envision her playing a three or four (forward spot).”
On Wednesday Milne was often on the wing, showing pretty good agility for someone dealing with a recent foot injury. The Kwahommies won 67-60, getting 27 points from Jordyn Kearly and 11 from Milne. Ellie Kabayama had 24 for the Cougars.
Notably, the game was played at Crescent Heights. Hat High’s gym won’t be available until March at the earliest. Fans showed up and made sure it was a noisy opening night however.
With the post-secondary decision now behind her, Milne can focus on making even more noise in her last few months of high school basketball.
“I’m lucky to have played in the 4A league, against all the Lethbridge teams, because it’s the best league we can play,” said Milne, whose family moved from B.C. to Medicine Hat a few years ago. “It’s the best competition; that has made me better.”
In the earlier junior varsity game, Catholic Central won 57-51. Ashley Sazalski had 19 points in the win, while Cait MacMillan led Hat High with 16.
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