There aren’t many sports Kelsey Winfrey hasn’t excelled at, or at least tried.
Winfrey has played basketball, volleyball, football, cross country and track and field in her time at Lebanon High School. Basketball is a true passion for the senior standout signed to play for the University of Missouri next season.
Winfrey has been a fan of the Tigers her entire life, and told Yellowjackets coach Brendan Kelley about her desire to play for Missouri as a ninth grader.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Mizzou. When I was a freshman, Coach (Kelley) asked me if I was to pick any college what college would I go to, and I said Mizzou. That summer, Mizzou started recruiting me and I verbally committed,” Winfrey said.
Winfrey scored 21 points and had six rebounds and six assists Thursday night in Lebanon’s 65-31 win at Hillcrest. Lebanon (17-5) ranks 10th in the state in Class 5 according to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll.
“One of the big things that we’ve been talking to our kids about is approaching every single game like we’re playing a state-ranked team,” Kelley said. “The fact of the matter is when we get to districts it’s win or go home, and if we don’t prepare and play like we’re playing at a high level every night, there is a chance we’ll slip up. We don’t want that to happen.”
Winfrey showed what appeared to be a sixth sense for finding fellow senior Jaiden Offutt on the fast break against Hillcrest. Offutt scored 20 points, mostly on wide open layups thanks to leading passes from Winfrey.
“The connection that the two of them have for getting the ball out quick, knowing where the other one is and getting down the floor is what really enables us to run the floor,” Kelley said. “It makes the game 10 times easier.”
Winfrey is the most decorated girls basketball player to walk the halls of Lebanon High School. She holds 21 school records including career points, career rebounds, career assists and career steals.
Winfrey, a 5-foot-9 guard, was selected for first team all-state honors as a junior by the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association. She scored an average of 21.2 points per game as a junior. Winfrey is a three-time all-Ozark Conference selection, a three-time all-district honoree and a 2016 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year Award finalist.
Above the personal accolades, Winfrey wants to help Lebanon win a district playoff championship.
“It would mean so much. My whole high school career, we haven’t made it out of districts yet, so I would be so happy with a district championship, but I know we can do more than that. I hope that actually happens, it would mean the world to me,” Winfrey said.
Winfrey twice qualified for the Class 4 state cross country championship race. Her best finish came in 2014, her sophomore year, when she covered five kilometers in 20:18.01 and finished in 76th place. She served as Lebanon’s backup football kicker as a junior and became one of the few women in the history of Missouri high school football to score when she kicked an extra point.
In track and field, she hopes to qualify for the state championship meet in the 800-meter run. She prefers middle distance races.
“I’m just fast enough for the 800, and it’s a gut race,” Winfrey said. “I usually can beat girls on the home stretch because I want it a lot.”
Winfrey spent her summers playing AAU basketball for Della Lamb Running Angels of Kansas City. The AAU circuit helped her draw the attention of Missouri coach Robin Pingeton.
“There were a lot of big colleges at the tournaments we went to. We played in Texas, New Orleans and Georgia, and every tournament we went to there were big, big colleges there,” Winfrey said. “That really helped me with Mizzou and other colleges looking at me.”
Winfrey received the Pink and White Lady Classic’s 2016 Jane A. Meyer Award, which is given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of basketball with a combination of outstanding play and character traits. She chose Mizzou for basketball over recruitment from North Carolina and Oklahoma State, among other college programs.
High school girls basketball
Lebanon 65, Hillcrest 31
Lebanon—Kelsey Winfrey 21, Jaiden Offutt 20, Fait Alwardt 10, Jenna Glendenning 6, Gracie Calhoun 4, Cori Johnson 2, Maddie O’Connor 2
Hillcrest—Sara Hale 11, Madison Schaefferkotter 5, Mackenzie Kendrick 4, Reagan Jamison 4, Kaitlyn Maxwell 3, Chia Brooks 2, Kinsie Williams 2.