Tam a CdM point of emphasis

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Sophomore point guard, who made game-winning shot in upset victory over San Juan Hills, has gained confidence in team's big run.

March 07, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Corona del Mar High's Kelly Tam is the Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week.
Corona del Mar High's Kelly Tam is the Daily Pilot… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Kelly Tam fell in love with basketball at a young age, but you can't play basketball without a hoop.

Tam said she begged her parents, Leo and Marge, for one. The response wasn't quite what Kelly wanted to hear.

"They were like, 'Oh, where are we going to put it? We don't have any room,'" Kelly Tam recalled.

So Kelly took matters into her own hands. She made good use of the basketball court in the One Ford Road community of Newport Beach, working long hours to improve her game.

There, too, she encountered a bit of resistance.

"The neighbors would get really mad, because I would be there all the time," she said. "You know how when you bounce [the ball around], it will echo? That's why they would get mad. I'd be there early in the morning, late at night."

Often at the court, it was just Kelly against that hoop. She found that place of tranquillity.


It helped prepare her for a scene which was nothing like that just last week, in front of hundreds of screaming fans in the Corona del Mar High gym. Tam, now a sophomore at CdM, had the ball in her hands at the end of a CIF Southern Section Division 3AA quarterfinal playoff game against San Juan Hills.

The No. 6-seeded Sea Kings had come nearly all the way back from an 18-point second-half deficit against No. 3 San Juan Hills. It was up to Tam, the point guard, to finish that off.

Boy, did she deliver.

She took the pass from Maria King and nailed a three-pointer from the corner with 40 seconds left, tying the score. Then, after San Juan Hills made a free throw, it was up to Tam to make another play. She did so, even after San Juan Hills nearly stole the ball. Tam ripped it away, drove right and weaved between three Stallions before banking in the game-winning layup with five seconds left. Krista Anderson blocked a Stallions shot on the other end at the buzzer, and the Sea Kings had a thrilling 38-37 victory.

The five points were the only ones Tam, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, needed to score in the game. She helped CdM make the CIF semifinals for the first time since the 1982-83 team that captured the program's lone section title. And, though the Sea Kings fell at No. 2-seeded Lake Elsinore Lakeside, 57-37, in the semifinals, their season may not be over thanks to Tam.

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