Standing at 5-foot-4, Kelli Kamida doesn’t look like a very ominous threat on the basketball court.
But box her in a corner behind the three-point line and she can be deadly.
So deadly that she hit 16 – yes, that’s right – three-point baskets in the Mark Keppel High girls’ basketball team’s recent 90-50 victory over host Montebello High to set a school record.
A bench player, Kamida – who attended Highlands Elementary School in Monterey Park – is now averaging 17 points per game.
Her coach Joe Kikuchi agreed that she doesn’t look like a killer near the basket.
“She’s a tremendous shooter,” Kikuchi said of Kamida. “She doesn’t look like your typical athlete who’s going to score 48 points. But she gets the job done.”
But Kikuchi said he wasn’t fooled by her lack of stature on the court when deciding to play her earlier in the season.
“When she came up from (junior varsity) this past year I could already tell she was going to be a good shooter,” he said. “I didn’t think she was capable of 16 in a game, but I knew she was a very good shooter. She’s great. All the team likes her. She’s fun to be around and she works hard.”
Kamida, a 16-year-old junior, said it was just fun to reach that accomplishment.
“It was really exciting because it was my first year (on the varsity squad),” she said. “My teammates helped me, though, by passing me the ball. They just set me up well.”
Kamida said she started playing basketball when she was 5 years old; adding that is has been a family affair.
“My parents both play basketball and my whole family does,” she said. “My mom has a friend and her daughter started playing with me.”
She added she just likes being part of the team.
“I love how your teammates make you family and how close you are,” she said.
One teammate who has taken Kamida in is Tammi Matsukiyo. Matsukiyo said the two have been playing together since they were children.
“Kelli’s a great shooter,” Matsukiyo said. “I’ve been playing with her since kindergarten.”
Kamida said she hasn’t really analyzed why she’s able to hit baskets from the outside.
“There’s not really a secret: I just shoot it,” she said.