Some things are just a natural fit.
Riley County guard Katelyn Thomson’s official signing to join the Cloud County women’s basketball team may just be one of those things.
In Thomson the Thunderbirds will get a versatile backcourt player.
“The thing about Katelyn is that she’s so tough,” Riley County head coach Harold Oliver said. “She’s strong, physical, she handles the ball and she’s good on the assist and scoring the ball.”
Thomson, who Oliver said would rather set up a teammate before scoring herself, was a two-time All-Mid-East League selection who averaged 13.5 points and more than four assists a game during her senior season.
She finished fourth in Falcons’ history in career 3-pointers (95), while knocking down 40 of 87 (46 percent) from long range during a 2013-14 season that saw Riley County run out to a 22-2 record and reach the Class 3A state tournament for the third time in four years.
“Her greatest attribute, right now,” Cloud County head coach Brett Erkenbrack said, “is her ability to shoot the 3-point shot. I really like her as a competitor. You know she’s going to play hard and she’s going to compete.”
That toughness is one reason Erkenbrack wasn’t too alarmed after Thomson suffered a major knee injury her senior year — returning for the state tournament.
“It says a lot about what she’s learned from the program and her family, to have that toughness and desire to want to come back and help her team,” Erkenbrack said.
At Cloud County, Thomson gets an opportunity to continue to her career in a program with a similar on-court mentality and a history of success that she’s grown accustomed to while playing for the Falcons.
It’s a reciprocal sentiment. Thomson’s Riley County pedigree was a major factor for Erkenbrack.
“Harold is one of the best coaches in the state of Kansas, for sure,” Erkenbrack said. “He’s had a great program at Riley County for 20-plus years, and through that I got to know Katelyn’s father, Dan.”
“Putting all that together you’ve got a skilled basketball player from a great program and a good family, and that is a lot of pieces to the puzzle.”
In Erkenbrack’s 23-years at Cloud County, the Thunderbirds have compiled a 514-199 record. He’s the winningest coach in Kansas junior college women’s basketball history, as Cloud has averaged better than 22 wins a season in the last five years.
“That’s one of the things that I liked,” Thomson said. “Being on a winning team in high school, and (the camaraderie) that comes with that. It’s a good opportunity to continue that in college.”
Cloud County’s style of play also attracted the 5-foot-5 guard.
“I really felt comfortable with the team,” Thomson said. “Their offense is similar to what we ran in high school, and they share the ball. They don’t focus on one player, and I like that.”
With the signing, Thomson joins older sister Kelly — a redshirt-sophomore at Kansas State — as the second of four siblings to continue their basketball career at the collegiate level.
The Falcons’ Madison and Makayla Vargo already signed to play basketball at Washburn next season.