Patriot alum sparking Fayetteville State

Keayna McLaughlin and the Fayetteville State University women’s basketball team had a deep run this spring. The Broncos finished the 2023-24 season with a 29-3 overall record. A win over Elizabeth City State earned the squad the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) title.

In that 64-59 victory, Keayna – who played for Pinecrest High School before heading east – had 17 points and hit 70 percent of her field-goal tries. The performance capped a standout year for the guard, a junior. In 32 games, 31 of those starts, she had 283 points, an average of 8.8 per game, and 160 rebounds. Keayna totaled 61 assists and 55 steals.

Her three-point shooting percentage was .243.

“It was a good season, this year,” Keayna said. “All the work we put in paid off.”

Following the win over Elizabeth City State, the Broncos won a pair of games in the NCAA DII Atlantic Region Tournament. Fayetteville State’s season ended with a 72-47 loss to Gannon.

Keayna credited the group around her when asked about team and personal success.

“I have a great group of teammates,” she said. “What they do here is what I do for them.”

While Keayna is quick to credit others, time she put in last summer, specifically dealing with the offensive zone, paid dividends.

“I wanted to improve going to the basket,” she said. “This year, I got better with my footwork. I played aggressive through the year.”

Some players are vocal leaders or push others to improve. Keayna likes to lead by example.

“I try to stay positive with teammates,” she said.

An eye-opening roll in the postseason may cause some to be satisfied with what’s been accomplished. That doesn’t apply to Keayna. Her goal is to get even better going into her senior year.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “Every year, there’s something new to work on. I want to work on my mid-range shooting. I also want to continue to stay in shape.”

Even though Keayna’s now shining at a different level, she hasn’t forgotten the strides she made at Pinecrest High. She’s grateful coaches at the school helped instill a key aspect of her approach. 

“I was taught discipline,” Keayna said. “It paid off.”

She makes an effort to get back home as much as possible.          

“I’m there at least twice a month,” Keayna said.

One reason she returns often is to see her greatest influence and inspiration, her mom.

“She’s always been a big supporter at the games,” Keayna said. “It shows how much she cares. She shows what support looks like.”

Along with thanking both her parents, Keayna thanked God, family and friends, and teammates. 

Feature photo: Keayna McLaughlin/Contributed photo.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel reporter Dave Lukow. Dave has been honored as both a lyricist and screenwriter. Among other publications he’s contributed to are the Buffalo News, JD Journal, Beckett Hockey, Seminole Player’s Life, Poker Pro, Walmart World, and All In.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email