A painful plaque spurs versatile Kaelynn Satterfield to stellar season at Christ the King

Courtesy the Satterfield family

The hardware has been much easier to bear this season for Kaelynn Satterfield and undefeated Christ the King.

It was an award that nobody on the team wanted.

Nearly a year later, Kaelynn Satterfield, now a 6-foot junior wing at storied Christ the King (Middle Village, New York), can still feel the sting she got when she received that plaque.

After a 66-64 loss to Mary Louis Academy (Jamaica, New York) last March in the city championship game, the Christ the King Royals each received a plaque that read "Varsity AA Basketball Diocesan Finalists 2017."

No thanks. Satterfield and each of her teammates gave those mementos to their coach, Bob Mackey.

Losing is always difficult. But what made this defeat so painful was the way it went down. With a tie score and five seconds left, the Royals surrendered a layup off an inbounds play. And with no timeouts remaining, they were unable to get a good look themselves.

"That loss felt horrible," Satterfield said. "I probably cried the whole night."

Mackey, in a motivational ploy, placed each of the plaques in his players' lockers. And when those were discarded, Mackey lifted one plaque very near the locker-room ceiling, way above the chalkboard the team uses on a daily basis.

It still hurts. And that plaque also serves as a daily reminder to the Royals that second place is nowhere near good enough.

This season, Satterfield and her teammates are off to a 19-0 start, including a win last week over Mary Louis Academy in which Satterfield had 19 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. The Royals have vaulted to No. 8 in the espnW 25 Power Rankings.

Prior to the rematch with Mary Louis, the Royals had already stared down a brutal schedule, beating three teams that have appeared in the top 25: Paul VI (Fairfax, Virginia); Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Maryland) and Long Island Lutheran (Brookville, New York).

The versatility of Satterfield, who is averaging 15.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists, is a big reason for the season.

"She's not a true point guard, but we have her playing the 'one,' and it doesn't faze her," Mackey said. "She's very tough going to the basket. She's improved her jump shot, and she's a very dangerous passer because she moves through the lane and still sees the floor so well.

"I'm not going to pigeonhole her. I think she could play one, two, three and four in college, if needed. She's not afraid to post up, and she can go outside and either shoot or take you off the dribble."

She learned the game from her dad, Kenny Satterfield, a 6-2 New York City guard during his youth before going on to play two years for the Cincinnati Bearcats and bolting for the 2001 NBA Draft (second round, 53rd overall by the Dallas Mavericks).

Kenny, 36, played two years in the NBA and prolonged his pro career by competing in Greece, France, Dominican Republic, Cypress, Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon and Japan.

He retired three years ago and now has more time to work with Kaelynn, the oldest of his three children.

"She's similar to me in the way she sees the game and passes," Kenny said. "She plays with more power than I did, and I played with more quickness.

"Another thing we have in common is pushing our teammates. She likes to make sure all her teammates score. ... She knows one player can't win a game."

Keith Gilchrist, who coaches Satterfield on her AAU New Jersey Sparks team, often uses some variation of the word "crafty" when describing her game.

I can basically do anything a coach asks me to do.
Kaelynn Satterfield

In a 54-43 high school win over Riverdale Baptist on Jan. 27, Satterfield handled a swarming press with relative ease.

"They were trying to pressure her, and she was able to go wherever she wanted because of her craftiness," Gilchrist said. "She uses her hesitation dribble. She knows how to get by whoever is guarding her by changing speeds and directions."

So far, Satterfield has more than 10 college scholarship offers from schools in the Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big East and Atlantic 10.

And since she has only limited experience in weight training, the expectation is that she will get even stronger in college. She already oozes confidence on and off the court.

"I guess our IQs," she said when asked for a similarity between her game and her father. "Being a point guard, you learn how to get teammates involved. I can basically do anything a coach asks me to do.

"Everyone makes a big deal out of my father. But to me, it's just my dad."

So where will Satterfield end up in college?

It remains to be seen, but she identifies most as a program builder.

"When I was younger, I liked Connecticut," she said. "They are still the top (program). But now, not all the top girls go there -- everyone is just trying to beat UConn.

"I like the idea of going somewhere I can start it up."

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