Keanna Gary has taken the road less traveled, but her winding journey has led to a home at Indiana Tech.
As a star basketball player at Leo High School, Gary signed with Akron University for the 2013-14 season. She thought moving away from home would be best, but changed her mind after one year.
Gary returned to the area, enrolling at IPFW and spending two seasons with the Mastodons. In 55 career appearances, she averaged 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Still, something didn’t feel right.
“The style of play wasn’t really what I was looking for,” Gary told the News-Sentinel. “The fit just started to go away from what I thought it would be.”
After a visit to Indiana Tech’s campus, Gary decided it’s where she wanted to be.
“Third time’s the charm,” she said with a laugh.
In her first season with the Warriors, the redshirt junior has earned four Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference and one NAIA Division II Player of the Week honors. The 6-foot-1 center has collected 20 double-doubles, which leads NAIA D-II and is also a school record.
Gary is second on the team with 17.6 points per game, and her 12.2 rebounds are exactly double the second-highest average.
“Rebounding is a tribute to her effort,” head coach Jessie Biggs said of Gary. “She cleans up a lot on the boards, and her presence down there on defense is huge for us.
While anyone can see and praise Gary’s scoring and interior contributions, it’s her mentality behind closed doors that has grabbed Biggs’ attention.
“Her basketball abilities and stats speak for themselves, but she’s brought a lot more than I wasn’t necessarily expecting,” the fifth-year coach said.
“She’s a great leader. One thing that impresses me most about her is she works every day. A lot of transfers or D-I kids think they’re entitled to things or maybe they don’t have to work as hard, but she comes to practice, leads by example, works hard every day and gets it done in the classroom.
Gary’s efforts are paying huge dividends for Tech.
Starting alongside leading scorer Haley Cook, fellow Leo grad Taylor Seiss, Kendall Knapke and Bella Lozano-Dobbs, Gary has helped the Warriors to a 17-4 record in the WHAC and 23-6 overall.
“I’ve never met a group of girls like this before,” Gary said. “Everyone gets along on and off the court, and I feel like it shows on the court.”
Earlier this season, the team achieved the program’s highest ranking (17th) since the 2011-12 campaign. Tech is currently 18th nationally with one game remaining in the regular season.
And it’s a big one.
Tech will host sixth-ranked Davenport, which is 27-2 on the season and 21-0 in WHAC play. The conference foe has already secured its 11th straight WHAC regular-season championship, and Tech has not defeated Davenport in 28 consecutive matchups.
Gary is ready to help the Warriors shake that streak.
She posted 25 points and 14 rebounds during the first meeting this year, but Tech’s shooting slipped in the second half of a 75-69 loss on the road. The rematch is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Schaefer Center.
Both teams will enter the finale on double-digit winning streaks, though Indiana Tech will have a motivational boost with it being Senior Day.
“I know we want to play hard for the seniors,” Gary said, “so that would be a really big victory for us as a team.”
Saturday, however, might not be the last time Tech and Davenport meet this season.
Thanks to the Warriors’ 85-40 victory over Marygrove on Wednesday, the Warriors secured the No. 2 seed in the WHAC Tournament. Davenport, which has secured seven consecutive tournament titles, will be No. 1. If both programs win two games, they’ll meet in the championship.
“They’re a great team,” Biggs said of the conference power. “We definitely have to play our best basketball, but when we play well together, we’re tough to beat.”
Although celebrating a victory over Davenport would be a new experience for Indiana Tech, Gary is no stranger to journeying down a path few have ventured.
“College has been one heck of a ride,” she said. “But I’m happy I still have an opportunity to play basketball and to get a good degree.”