Kelsi Wells was on target in the quarterfinal game of the NAIA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championships Saturday in Frankfort, Ky., against Westmont, Calif.
The former Grantsville High School graduate knocked down 7-of-14 field goals and hit 2-of-3 3-point baskets for 16 points. She also led the team in rebounding with eight. The rest of the players, however, were icy cold from the field making only 7-of-33 shots as Westmont prevailed 39-36 to send the Griffins back to Salt Lake City after making the final eight in the national tournament.
Westminster won two games in the tourney before facing Westmont.
Wells’ shooting touch was not as sharp in the opening 69-55 victory over St. Catherine of Kentucky. She hit 3-of-10 from the field, but a respectable 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. Her talented teammates responded with strong shooting performances.
“I’ve never played on a team like this before,” Wells said. “You always know that somebody will step up and help you get the victory.”
Westminster advanced to the quarterfinals on Friday by defeating Faulkner University of Alabama 66-60. The Grantsville graduate took one shot in that game and connected on a 3-pointer.
For the past five years Wells has impressed her coaches by her superb play. Those five years included two years at Grantsville High School, two years at Snow College and this year at Westminster College.
Wells can score, rebound and defend, which has a tendency to make coaches happy.
“Kelsi is one of the best shooters from 3-point range that I’ve ever coached,” said Westminster’s women’s basketball coach Shelley Jarrard. “She’s a great person – quiet and unassuming. She has worked hard to learn our system coming in as a junior this year. We are thrilled that she has a year left at Westminster as she will only improve and be a key player for us next season. She’s athletic and strong — a great rebounder.”
Wells played on a superb GHS team as a junior and averaged 15 points per game and was a leading rebounder. That team finished fifth in state and included college players Sammie Jensen from UVU and Marissa Robbins from SUU. Wells averaged 19 points the following year as a senior at GHS and led the team in rebounding.
Wells took her skills to Snow College where she was the fourth-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder her freshman year, and second-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder her sophomore season. She averaged 9 points per game as a frosh and 12 points per game as a sophomore. She average 6.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
The starting guard credits former GHS coach Kenzie Newton for steering her toward basketball.
“In high school the main thing I wanted to do was play softball, but when I started playing for coach Newton she helped me a lot with my game and I started to love basketball,” Wells said.
The top athlete said she has been tutored by great coaches all along the way, including her current head coach and assistant coach at Westminster.
“Our head coach notices all the little details that helps you be a better player. We also have Elaine Elliott as an assistant,” Wells said. Elliott was the head coach at the University of Utah for 27 seasons and led her team to 15 NCAA tourney appearances.
“Shelley Jarrard and Elaine Elliott are two of the best coaches you could every have,” Wells said.