The McKeowns: Touchet's first family of basketball

The McKeowns: (from left, standing) Cody, Malissa, Colter, Tim, Cierra Jo, and Conner (kneeling), are the first family of Touchet basketball.

The McKeowns: (from left, standing) Cody, Malissa, Colter, Tim, Cierra Jo, and Conner (kneeling), are the first family of Touchet basketball.



Mother Missy McKeown coaches the Touchet girls basketball team.


Father Tim McKeown coaches three of his sons on the Touchet varsity boys team.

TOUCHET — If the “Sound of Music” had involved screeching sneakers and bouncing basketballs, then the McKeown family likely would’ve given the von Trapps a run for their money.

The McKeown (pronounced mihk-KYOO-wihn) clan has made its home on the Touchet High School hardwood, where the two parents coach and four of the five kids play for the Indians.

The five kids can thank father Tim, the head coach of the boys team, and mother Malissa, who leads the girls team, for their inundation into basketball.

Connor and Cody are seniors on this year’s Touchet team, Colter is a junior on the squad, and Caden is an Indian-to-be as an eighth grader.

Cierro Jo is a sophomore on the Indians’ girls varsity team.

“I’ve been (in) a three-sport family, and basketball was my favorite, so I hit that a little more head-on than the others,” Tim said. “It carried over to my family this way.”

“In her day, she was close to a 30-point scorer per game,” Tim said of Missy. “She was in the top three in the state in scoring at the time.”

Tim, who graduated from Walla Walla High School in 1980, played under coach Jim Thacker before accepting a spot on the Walla Walla Community College roster. But he only spent one year playing at WWCC before deciding to switch lanes and join the coaching ranks.

He got his coaching start in 1983, after Thacker asked Tim to take over the Wa-Hi boy’s sophomore program.

In 1986, Missy graduated from Touchet and spent two years playing at Walla Walla Community College. During her final year with the Warriors, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament and was forced to redshirt after she got to the University of Idaho.

Missy left Idaho after one year and enrolled at Corban University in Salem, Ore., but after clashing with the coaching staff, she decided to leave Idaho and return to the Valley. She then spent a year playing at Walla Walla University before finally hanging it up for good.

And that’s when the two hoopers found one another in an unlikely place — a softball field.

Tim and Missy first met in a Jack & Jill softball league in Walla Walla.

But Missy was already familiar with the McKeowns.

“I had known his dad since I was a sixth grader here because his dad reffed all my games,” Missy said. “He even reffed some of my college games. I knew his dad way before I knew him.”

After they married, the couple had twins — Connor and Cody — while Tim coached at Wa-Hi and Missy assisted at Touchet.

After a year, the McKeown family grew, as they welcomed Colter, before having Cierra Jo the following year.

Missy, then an assistant with the Touchet girls team, had her hands full with four energetic youngsters. But instead of day care or baby sitters, the McKeown kids went to practice with Mom and Dad.

“I remember when they were teeny tiny, bringing them to games and practice,” Missy said. “When they were really, really little, they would sit and watch. They would dribble — kind of like gym rats, I guess. They’ve been around it.”

But when Missy was pregnant with Caden during the 2000 season, she needed someone to cover her spot on the Indian staff. Tim, who was a part of Wa-Hi’s run to the state tournament in 2000, jumped to Touchet in order to relieve his spouse.

But Tim found his part-time replacement duties turned into full-time before long, as he was promoted to head coach of the girls team following the season. Tim remained as head coach until the 2008-09 season, when he took over as head coach of the boys team.

Missy returned to the Touchet bench after having Caden, and remained as an assistant on the girls side until 2012, when she took over as head coach. Her ascension to head coach coincided with her daughter, Cierra Jo, coming up as a freshman.

“Missy is very humble and she doesn’t like to brag, but I’m sure there’s a lot of my daughter in her,” Tim said.

Cierra Jo averaged 22 points per game as a freshman and has been doing much of the same in her sophomore campaign. She has scored at least 26 points in her last five games and recorded a whopping 43 points in the Indians’ loss to St. John-Endicott on Jan. 25.

“She’s always played up,” Missy said of Cierra Jo, “which I think, in the long run, has helped her. The opportunities for her have been easier to find. She got on a team in Tri-Cities when she was a fifth grader. She’s been on that same team ever since.”

As for Cierra Jo, she’s heard the tales about Missy’s game, but Cierra Jo remains confident she could take her mom in a friendly pickup game.

“I heard she was pretty good,” Cierra Jo said.

Cierra Jo and Colter were lucky to find AAU teams growing up. Tim said AAU teams were more sparse when Colter was growing up, but the family found a team to play for in Walla Walla.

Colter, much like Tim, is a pass-first point guard who looks for his teammates rather than his own shot.

“He’s been playing for me since he was a freshman,” Tim said. “He’s my point guard now and he sets the tempo for my team. His demeanor is he goes out and he’s going to give it all he’s got. He’ll leave it on the floor.”

The twins — Connor and Cody — have fond memories shooting hoops with their younger siblings. The family had a hoop attached to a telephone pole set up in the front yard, and even though the backboard fell apart, the kids still had passionate pickup games throughout their youth.

Connor, who has played for Tim since his freshman year, may not beat Colter in pickup games any more, but that doesn’t stop him from competing.

“Connor is more of the smaller in stature, but he’s got a lot of heart,” Tim said. “He wants to learn a lot and he wants to please mom and dad.”

Cody, who is legally blind, swung between JV and varsity this season. Although he can’t see out of one of his eyes — and only has limited visibility out of the other — Cody is a deadly shooter.

“I’ll have him out there playing and I’ll just have him sit in one spot,” Tim said. “If he gets the ball, it’s an automatic shot. And sometimes he’s on, and sometimes he’s not.”

But Cody’s restricted eyesight has not slowed him down from playing alongside the rest of his family.

“He has a lot of heart,” Missy said of Cody. “Whatever he does, he goes all out. Everybody (is) great with him. They know he can’t see very well. They know who they’re passing to. Everybody helps him out. It’s fun to watch when he’s out there and the other kids are helping him.”

The McKeown coaches, however, expect a lot from their kids. Both Tim and Malissa require 100 percent effort whenever their children hit the floor.

“It’s fun,” Missy said of coaching Cierra Jo. “Sometimes it’s frustrating to differentiate between being a coach and being a parent. Sometimes, as parents, we’re maybe harder.”

“Our expectations of our kids are higher,” Tim said. “You think they should know. For a lot of other kids it’s a learning process.”

But their expectations extend off the court as well — to the classroom.

“We stress grades big time,” he added. “If we’re basically below a C or right at a C, we’re starting to get on them. It’s not all about sports, it’s about life too. We try to balance it out.”

As for Caden, who’s currently in eighth grade, he’s no different from the rest of the McKeown kids.

He will likely blossom from the family pickup games to shine at the high school level.

“He wants the ball in his hands,” Tim said. “He wants to be shooting. He wants to practice his form. He’s got really good form on his shot.”


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