By Kyle LoJacono
For just one season sisters Kayli and Meghan Keough played basketball together through the highs and lows as student-athletes at Land O’ Lakes High.
That single season was the 2007-08 school year, when the Gators went 25-4 and reached the second round of the playoffs. Kayli was a senior and Meghan a freshman. The two never thought they would have another opportunity to play together once Kayli left to play at Florida State University (FSU), but they will be reunited this year at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
“I loved playing with her that one year,” Meghan said. “It was easy for us to play together because we know exactly what the other is going to do. I thought it was only a one-time thing, but I guess we got lucky.”
Kayli decided to transfer from FSU to UCF for this school year after playing two seasons with the Seminoles. She will have to sit out one season because of NCAA transfer rules, but she will be eligible to play two more years with the Golden Knights in Orlando. She has already left for her new school.
Kayli said she wanted a little more playing time and she liked the fit and coaches at UCF. Also, Meghan had verbally committed to the school and will sign with them in October. The appeal of playing with her sister was a key reason for switching to the school.
“I consider her my best friend,” Kayli said of Meghan. “As kids we bickered a lot, but that changed when we were in high school together. Now we are best friends and love being around each other.”
The two grew up in Land O’ Lakes. Their father, Mike, was also an athlete with the Gators. He was part of the second graduating class at Land O’ Lakes and received a scholarship to play quarterback at Tennessee Tech University. He was also a volunteer football coach with the Gators for 12 years.
“Athletics has been very important in our lives and we really enjoy watching the two of them play,” said their mother Lisa. “It’s really exciting to watch their games. It was a longer drive to Tallahassee than it will be to Orlando, so we’ll be able to get to many more of their games.”
The two first started playing basketball a little later than most Division I athletes. Kayli picked it up around age 13 while playing at Pine View Middle, while Meghan began at 10.
“I started playing because my sister played,” Meghan said. “I’d see her playing in the backyard and I’d want to come out and play too. Now I can’t imagine not playing.”
Kayli plays both forward and on the wing. She is 6-foot-1 and her ability to play inside and out has made her difficult for opponents to match up against. At Land O’ Lakes she averaged a team-high 18.9 points per game, 104 blocks, 89 steals and 240 rebounds as a senior while adding 50 assists.
Meghan is a point and shooting guard. The 5-foot-7 perimeter player says she most enjoys driving to the basket and kicking the ball out to a teammate ready to sink an open shot. She played her first two seasons at Land O’ Lakes, but transferred to Tampa Catholic High for her junior season because she felt the academic reputation would help her get into a better college.
In that first season Meghan played mostly point guard and guided the Crusaders to a Class 3A championship, the first state title in the program’s history.
“She did a great job handling the ball and stepping into a roster that had four returning players,” said Tampa Catholic coach Nancy Kroll. “As the point guard she runs the offense and she made it look easy to step right in and do just that.”
Meghan averaged 12 points per game, 110 assists, 96 steals and 79 rebounds last season.
Kroll said Meghan is very coachable and is a great student as well.
“I don’t have to ever worry about her grades,” Kroll said. “She’ll get straight As every time.”
While basketball is a large part of their lives, the two actually started out as swimmers on the Land O’ Lakes Lightning swim team. They then started playing volleyball and Kayli received scholarship offers to play middle blocker in college.
Kayli is double-majoring in sociology and psychology and plans to eventually attend law school. Meghan is still undecided what kind of career she will pursue. Professions are still many years off and the two are just looking forward to playing together again next year.
“When we lost in the playoffs my senior year we were both so sad because we thought that was it,” Kayli said. “Now that it is really possible for us to play together again it doesn’t seem real. This time we’ll have two years together and it’ll be some of the best years I’ve had playing.”
-All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches as of Aug. 16.