Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports

March 5, 2014

Keisling hopes for a big party at end of week

Third-year coach has led Western girls to state finals.

The Keisling household is immersed in Hoosier Hysteria.

Chris Keisling is the coach of Western’s girls basketball team, which is preparing for its first state finals appearance on Saturday at Terre Haute. His son Austin is the leading scorer for the Class 2A No. 7-ranked Cass boys squad, which begins play in the Manchester Sectional tonight.

“There’s no doubt it’s a pretty exciting week,” Chris Keisling said. “Of course, I’m very focused on the girls with the state championship and Austin is focused on the Cass King boys and trying to win a sectional title and move on. My wife, Karen, is focused on both. ... It’s been a very, very successful year for the teams in our household. Certainly some fun times.”

The Keislings’ other son, Jon, is also busy with basketball. He is the JV boys coach and a varsity assistant at Western.

Chris Keisling is having a blast with Western’s girls team. The Panthers came within a game of the state finals in 2012 when Keisling was in his first season with the squad. The Panthers, with several holdovers from that squad, have made it to the big show this year.

“It’s a lot of fun knowing that I’ve been with a lot of these girls for three years,” Keisling said. “Certainly you develop a closeness with the kids as you experience practices and games and all that goes with a season. And they’re just such great kids on and off the floor. They’re fun to be around.”

Western (22-3) will face Evansville Mater Dei (26-1) in the Class 3A championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Keisling is a North Miami graduate and he teaches at Cass, but he was plenty familiar with Western when he took the girls job. His uncle Duane Keisling was Western’s boys coach when the Panthers thrilled their community by winning the 1983 Kokomo Sectional, their first sectional title. Further, Chris Keisling had a feel for Western after teaching at the school early in his professional career.

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