ALBRIGHT: Giving everything, even when you owe nothing

These have been good times for Magnolia’s volleyball and girls’ basketball programs.

The simultaneous high levels of success have kept the party going even through the cold months.

And it might be coincidence or it might not, but Kyndra Pilant has participated on both teams since her arrival as a freshman.

Her time has been the Blue Eagles’ time.

So it is safe to say Pilant owed Magnolia absolutely squat this year. Let’s add zero, zip, zilch, and nada, while we are at it.

For those who judge by accomplishments, she has you covered.

Her smile adorns some of the biggest sports moments of the last four years. Fans and onlookers can gather her importance rather quickly. She is smack dab in the middle of these pictures, after all. These shots included the 2018 state volleyball champions shot, ’18 regional champions shot , and the 2017 and ’18 regional basketball champions shot.

And for those who judge by stats, well she has you covered, too.

Then, you look at the numbers.

Then, you become a believer. Oh my! Her contributions were important. Each mark as big as her 6-foot frame intimidating coaches around the state. You saw her almost 2,000 kills. Or, maybe the fact she pulled down 1,000 rebounds and scored 1,000 points in just three seasons stood out, as well.

Yeah, I know. Amazing.

Stepmother Meredith Pilant even trumpeted her time at the school “as a run of one of the best female athletes in Magnolia High history.”

High praise, indeed.

Kyndra’s legacy clearly was in place.

The new question really became: Where could she go from here?

Well, one run at a repeat for the state volleyball title marked a nice bow for her Eagles’ athletic career. The absence of 6-foot-5 force Mady Winters (torn ACL) hurt, but much of the title team returned to the court.

The repeat didn’t happen.

But, Kyndra quickly moved past this development. Shortly afterward she signed on to play college basketball at Concord, but then what?

As much as she loved basketball, she witnessed Winters’ injury first hand.

“The thought went through my head and if I was the one hitting it would have been me. Knock on wood I haven’t had an injury that bad,” she said.

So, she readied herself for a position in front of the student section at every home game? Rest and celebrating before Concord in the fall were her winter life?

Pros and cons existed for both scenarios.

The basketball team wasn’t nearly as experienced as the volleyball group. A position switch for Pilant was coming, as were the double and triple teams associated with being a learning team’s main threat.

Then again, sour grapes marred last year’s finish. An ankle injury held her to just nine points as the Blue Eagles didn’t have enough to get by Trinity.

The second state tournament opening-round loss in as many seasons set fresh in her mind.

This seemed like an easy choice. She would play basketball.

“I really wanted to finish my senior year out and I know how much these freshmen look up to me. I don’t want to leave them hanging. I want to go out with a bang and not play it safe just because I am going to college,” Kyndra said.

How is this working out for her?

The double teams came and the start was rough at 2-8. The point guard duties and scoring duties were a nightly occurrence.

As the leader, she never complained.

Things appear on the rise now, too. A 4-2 record since a loss to Warren has seen Kyndra return to her natural position. And while the ball may have left her hand, she is still leading.

“I want to prove to everyone I can play. It is nice to have the trust this year because last year they (the coaching staff) were iffy with me a little bit. I was inconsistent, but this year we want to have faith in ourselves and want everyone else to have faith in us too,” Kyndra said.

“She really has taken on that leadership role and is making everyone else around her play to a higher level. Every game I am seeing her get better, too,” said Meredith.

Kyndra’s most recent reward for her unselfish play? She became the all-time leading scorer in the girls’ program Saturday against Calhoun County.

Talk about quite a tip.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.


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