Siblings of standouts Taylor Kelly and Cody Pickett finding their own success

rroberts@idahostatesman.comJanuary 10, 2014 

MERIDIAN — Although they cheered on their teammates with genuine enthusiasm, Rocky Mountain High girls basketball players Madi Kelly and Carson Pickett weren’t particularly comfortable being on the bench Wednesday night.

Kelly, the team’s starting point guard, was sitting because the Grizzlies had a monsterous lead in the third quarter; Pickett because of a torn ACL in her left knee that knocked her out of the starting lineup nine games into the season.

No matter the reason for their current circumstances, each would have preferred to be on the court because of their competitive natures.

It’s an inherited trait.

Both girls come from Treasure Valley families whose parents and siblings rose to an elite level in their respective athletic arenas.

Pickett is the youngest child of Dee and Brenda Pickett. Dee was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and is a former Boise State quarterback. Carson’s brother, Cody, went from standout athlete at Caldwell High to a record-setting quarterback at the University of Washington and later a starter for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. He is currently the head coach of the Eagle High girls basketball team.

Kelly’s parents each played two college sports, and older brother Taylor won a 5A state football championship forEagle High and is now the starting quarterback at Arizona State.

Fairly or unfairly, that reputation of athletic excellence has preceded the girls — who have been best friends since grade school — throughout their young careers.

In keeping with their family history, both have shouldered the burden in stride.

“My whole family is just full of athletes,” Carson said. “I want to live up to my family name.”

“Taylor has a really good work ethic, so I just want to push myself like he does,” Madi said. “I want to make my goals like he does. I just look up to him a lot. My parents say I remind them a lot of Taylor, and I take that as a compliment.”

•••

As youngsters, watching their brothers succeed at a high level only reinforced their growing love of competition.

Carson, who is 15 years younger than Cody, didn’t fully comprehend her brother’s success until she attended a 49ers game at Candlestick Park when she was about 9 years old.

“The crowd was chanting his name and it was just so cool,” Carson said. “He’d be normal when we were at home. I was like, ‘Woah, I guess my brother is a big deal.’ ”

It was a similar scenario for Madi, who was in middle school when Taylor led Eagle to a come-from-behind 22-21 win over Capital in the state title game at Bronco Stadium.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s my brother,’ ” Madi recalls.

•••

Five-foot-8 Carson started her basketball career at the post position because she was “one of the tall kids.” Five-foot-7 Madi has always been a guard.

“They have always had a lot of fun, got in trouble,” Carson’s mom, Brenda, said. “At that point, it was teasing people going up and down in the elevator at hotels. We’d get security knocking on the door saying, ‘Are these your girls?’ ”

By junior high, Carson transitioned to shooting guard, and Madi remained steady at the point.

“They have always clicked on the court,” Brenda said. “Madi always seems to find Carson. They talk to each other well and communicate well on the court. It’s kind of always been that way.”

The duo, alongside fellow seniors Noelle Aragon, Kilee Jafek and Megan Hochstein, have been playing basketball together for years. As eighth-graders at Eagle Middle School, the “High Five,” a nickname the quintet picked up along the way, went undefeated and won a district championship.

“Madi has always been super competitive and when she met Carson, that was the first time she met someone that was as competitive as her,” said Madi’s mom, Kathy.

“They’re even still to this day competitive with each other when they are in the weight room or when they are on the foul line. I think they have pushed each other a lot through the years and made each other better.”

Cody Pickett coached all five girls for five straight years during the club season for Team 208, starting in the sixth grade. Coaching against them now at Eagle has been awkward for all involved.

“He knows all of us, so he knows how to shut each of our players down individually, but we still won,” Carson said. “It was weird playing against him.”

•••

This season — the last run together for High Five — is turning out to be one of their best.

The Grizzlies are 12-0 in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference and 14-0 overall. They are tied for first with Lewiston (12-1) in the state media poll.

Being undefeated is more a product than a goal, however.

“If we talk about it, then it would get in our heads and it would just go downhill,” Carson said.

Added Madi: “We just go one game at a time.”

Madi is averaging 13.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.9 steals per game.

Carson, who had to sit out all of last season with an ACL injury to the same knee, has decided to wait until after the season to have surgery. She said she’ll be back on the court for the Grizzlies as soon as her custom knee brace is ready, which could be as early as next week. Before her injury, she was averaging 10.4 points, 2.1 steals and 1.9 rebounds per game.

The thought of having both fiery competitors back on the court at the same time is enough to bring a smile to the face of ever-reserved Rocky Mountain coach Emery Roy.

“It will be a plus,” he said.

Roy cites the pair’s competitiveness as being one of their best traits.

“They’ve both worked hard. They know what it’s like to work hard. They come in and put in extra time,” he said. “Even Carson is coming in and shooting with a bad leg because she wants to be ready to go when she can play.”

•••

Neither girl’s athletic career will end in high school. Both will attend Division I Utah Valley in Orem — Madi on a scholarship to play basketball and Carson for golf.

They already plan on rooming together.

Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX

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