Kelsey Ransom played with the Bishop George Ahr High School girls’ basketball team during its 2018 summer league season.
The Trojans were playing without Akiyah Baker and Madison Ruddy, two of their best players. Ransom led them to the Middlesex County League championship anyway.
The muscular, position-less junior literally made her coach, Brittney Griffin, salivate.
“She’s a super athletic specimen,” Griffin said in December.
All of this was before Ransom actually played a game for Bishop Ahr. Last April, she transferred to the Edison school from The Pingry School in Basking Ridge.
Since Ransom transferred, she had to sit for the first 30 days of the regular season, an NJSIAA rule. But when she finally made her debut on Jan. 13 at Morris Catholic High School, Ransom did exactly what Griffin expected her to do: took the Trojans to another level.
In that game, a 52-43 Bishop Ahr victory, Ransom was a force off the bounce, making eight free throws and scoring 12 points. The Trojans only got better from there, winning their next nine games by double digits.
Then, on Feb. 8, Ransom dropped in 20 points and led the Trojans to their biggest victory in recent program history, 54-48, over a New Jersey power, Manasquan High School. Manasquan won the 2018 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions state title.
Ransom is not living up to expectations. She is exceeding them.
“She takes games over,” Griffin said. “Kelsey gets out in transition and Emma (Boslet) sees the floor so well, so they’ve been a one two punch with that.”
“I had an itch every game I watched,” Ransom said. “It’s different when you’re injured and can’t play. I was perfectly healthy.”
The junior is averaging 15.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.5 assists per game. She has also helped the Trojans go 13-1 since Jan. 13.
Ransom is unstoppable because she is 5-10, strong like an ox and fast like a sprinter.
“She’s just so much faster than everybody,” Griffin said. “She could be recruited to be a track star if she wanted to be.”
Ransom’s numbers are gaudy, but her biggest impact has been on defense. She guards the other team’s fastest player, which is often its best ball handler. With her long arms and quick footwork, Ransom completely shuts down passing lanes.
This allows her teammates to play like football cornerbacks benefitting from a great pass rush. They aggressively jump routes, intercept passes and race down the court in transition.
“Because she’s so long, the other team’s fastest kid isn’t as big as her,” Griffin said. “Whoever she’s guarding is looking over her and other girls can step into passing lanes.”
It may sound like Bishop Ahr needed Ransom to become a contender. But the Trojans were already really good, with a 9-2 record, before Ransom played a game this winter. Boslet, Baker, Ruddy and Megan Herka formed a talented core on their own.
But Ransom elevated the Trojans from a postseason contender into a team that could beat Manasquan.
“It has been easy to adapt because we’re all trying to accomplish same thing, which is to win,” Boslet said.
Griffin has been a coach in the Bishop Ahr program for nine years. It has not yet won a postseason trophy in that span.
This winter, though, with Ransom leading the way, everything is in play.
Bishop Ahr is the No. 1 seed in the GMC Tournament and the No. 3 seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public A South Tournament.
“With Kelsey added to the mix, we could be playing in March,” Griffin said in December.
“We have really high expectations,” Griffin said on Feb. 14. “We’ll just come out and do what we’ve been doing.”