Athlete of the week: Anna Beth Kinnersley etched herself into Warrior lore with her playoff performances

Published 8:15 am Saturday, March 18, 2023

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Anna Beth Kinnersley put together a postseason for the ages. Her dominance in the semifinals and finals of the GIAA Class A state playoffs has etched her into LaGrange Academy basketball lore forever.

“The last few weeks of the season I was feeling super confident,” Kinnersley said. “I had just practiced with my grandfather really hard in that stretch, and I feel like I got better. It really got me more confident in my free throws.”

Free throws would prove a critical part of Kinnersley carving out her postseason legacy. In the semifinals, she put together a legendary performance hitting the go-ahead shot and game-winning free throws with under a minute to go.

She casually led the Warriors in scoring and rebounded in both games, but that was not all as she stuffed the statsheet with her all-around game. She finished the semifinal game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks and three steals — leading the Warriors in all four categories. 

She did not stop there and put on another dominant showing to help bring a state title back to LaGrange Academy. She finished the state championship game with 15 points, 16 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. It was a dream run for Kinnersley, who was far from 100% during this stretch of games. 

“In those games I was pretty sick with a sinus infection,” Kinnersley said. “I had a hard time breathing and had to have some cough drops and an inhaler on the sideline. In those games, I had to focus on my breathing to make sure I did not pass out.”

She showed her Warrior spirit and played almost every minute in the playoff run.

Adversity has been a large part of her life, but she has never run from it. She has always found a way to persevere in trying times. When she lost her older brother to cancer as a young girl, she became closer with God. When things were not clicking on the court at times, she sought out LaGrange Academy head coach Ken Klinger for 1-on-1 time. 

Getting better one step at a time is what defines Kinnersley’s life. She has made tremendous strides on the court since first lacing up her shoes for the Warriors back in seventh grade. It was her first time playing organized basketball — something that ran in the family with both her parents and her grandfather playing the sport when they were younger. 

“Basketball is huge in my family,” Kinnersley said. “Both my parents played basketball in high school, it’s my grandfather’s favorite sport and my cousin plays.”

She worked tirelessly on her ball handling and shot over the last year and developed into one of the best players in GIAA Class A as a junior. She was named to the all-state team to cap off her spectacular junior campaign.

Kinnersley really fell in love with basketball this year because of the team’s energy and the connective thread that binds these eight girls together.

Before basketball, her main athletic love was swimming. She used to spend nearly every weekend going to a swim meet. 

Kinnersley has known a lot of sports over the years as she found anyway she could to represent the school that means so much to her.

“I feel like I have done every sport (laughs),” Kinnersley said. “In my high school career, I have done cross country, track, volleyball and basketball. 

“When I do my extra curricular activities, I feel like I have to be the best representative for my school. I really love LaGrange Academy.”