Kendro leads NAIA in FT PCT
Rio Grande --- As the University of Rio Grande RedStorm women's basketball team heads into the Mid-South Conference Tournament they are well aware that success or failure could come down to free throws. If that is the case, Rio Grande is hoping that junior forward Leah Kendro is the one at the line to knock them down.
Kendro, a 5'9" forward from Strongsville, OH, has come into her own this season as a player. She has always been a very good free throw shooter, but this year she leads the entire NAIA at 91.9 percent (114-for-124).
Until just recently Kendro was the team's leading scorer, that honor right now belongs to fellow classmate Jenna Smith. Kendro's 14.7 points per game are in large part to her prowess at the charity stripe. Kendro is currently sixth in Mid-South Conference in scoring.
"Our program is excited for Leah Kendro on being the best free throw shooter in the NAIA and to lead the nation is a tribute to Leah's work ethic, natural abilities and its evidence of her love for the game," said Rio Grande head coach David Smalley. "Leah continuously works hard and wants to be the best that she can be, not only on the court but in the classroom and this is just one of the small pieces of the puzzle that's evident in Leah's work ethic and who she is as a basketball player."
"Leah continually strives to elevate and improve her game," Smalley added. "Each year that Leah's been with our program here at the University of Rio Grande she has improved or elevated her game to the point that has allowed her to be one of the best players in the conference. "
Kendro ranks high in a number of categories inside the conference and should nail down some post-season accolades. "She was an all-conference player last year in the American Mideast and I anticipate that she'll also be that this year (in the Mid-South Conference)," Smalley said. "She's a player that is reaching some milestones, getting close to her thousandth point and only a junior."
Kendro is indeed closing in on 1,000 career points and if Rio can make a run in the post-season, she will eclipse the mark before her senior season next year. Kendro stands at 964 points going into Thursday's MSC Quarterfinal match-up with Lindsey Wilson.
Kendro gives the RedStorm a lot of versatility as she can hit the perimeter shot or be a factor in the paint. "Leah can play the two, the three or the four position, she's our go-to player on the inside, maybe our best one-on-one isolated player, thrives in the transition game, can shoot the three and can get it to the glass," Smalley added. "She's just an all-around player that I believe is well on her way, by the time she ends her career at the University of Rio Grande, to reaching All-American status."
Rio Grande may be on to a statistical first as both Kendro and the men's P.J. Rase lead the NAIA in free throw percentage. Rio Grande head men's basketball coach Ken French is proud of both individuals. "I think it is an outstanding accomplishment from both PJ and Leah to be leading the country in free-throw shooting with both being from the same school. I'm not sure if that has ever happened before but it just proves that when it comes to shooting free-throws the University of Rio Grande is undeniably the best with the success those two have had this season," French said. "I personally feel that that is a great accomplishment by both individuals in each program. I am proud of both with the percentage they were able to shoot in regards to the physical punishment that came with it, very impressive."
Kendro will get an opportunity to improve her percentage versus LWC on Thursday afternoon at 12 Noon. Stretch Internet will have play-by-play coverage beginning at 11:50 a.m.