TURLOCK -- Alishea Kelly plays with the focus and energy of a player who knows her time on the court will be limited.
Which, in Kelly's case, is the truth.
The Cal State Stanislaus point guard became eligible to play for the Warriors on Jan. 2 after transferring from Colorado's Mesa State College.
And since her one-year stay at Mesa came after a two-year run with Solano College, Kelly's four-year college career will end Feb. 26 -- the day of Stanislaus' final regular-season game -- barring a run that puts the team in the post season.
Start to finish, it's a Warrior career covering all of 20 games over 56 days.
And yet, she's determined to leave her mark.
"It's hard knowing I'm only here for 20 games, especially since I'm a senior," said Kelly, who will be in the lineup tonight when Stanislaus plays host to Chico State in a women's/men's doubleheader.
"I hope to be able to continue playing basketball, maybe overseas. And I'll be back here watching the team next year, because they're a bunch of kids with only two seniors on the team."
Kelly, who stands 5 feet, 8 inches, started 14 games last season at Mesa as a junior, but felt the pull to return home when her father died last spring.
Basketball was not a strong consideration when she left, but Kelly did feel strongly about finishing her degree requirements in criminal justice -- and when she saw the opportunity to play at Stanislaus while pursuing that degree, she jumped at it.
But, as anyone who ever has gone through the transfer process will tell you, it's not quite as easy as filling out a change-of-address card. In Kelly's case, the process cost her the chance to play preleague games with her Warriors teammates.
"The process has been dragging out," Kelly said. "I was already going through the emotional stress of losing my father. After that, I had to call one person at Mesa, then another person, and felt like I was getting the runaround as I was missing so many games. I have no hard feelings toward Mesa because in the end I think they did a good job.
"You lose credits when you transfer. I'm behind by a semester or so, and with the budget cuts it will take a year to make it up since so many classes aren't offered in both the spring and fall. But I will graduate, and that's the good thing."
Finally cleared to play for the Warriors' first home game in California Collegiate Athletic Association play, Kelly debuted by scored 18 points in a 58-52 loss to Cal Poly Pomona, and came back the following day with a 19-point, 10-rebound effort in a 75-66 loss to CSU San Bernardino.
"She does lead us," said junior post Katie Busi. "Even though it's her first year people look up to her because of the talent she has. I think she can be even more vocal about being a leader."
When the team was ready to win a CCAA game, Kelly was there, scoring 26 points and grabbing nine rebounds in a 93-64 victory at CSU East Bay on Jan. 7 in Hayward.
"She can post you up, she can take you off the dribble and she can hit the three," said Warrior coach Sharon Turner. "That's why I think she's the best guard in the league. She steps out here and scores 18 points in the first game and you'll see more of that the more she plays."
Kelly enters tonight averaging 15.7 points and 7.2 rebounds for a team that still is struggling to find its way in the CCAA. The Warriors will take a 1-7 conference mark, 2-10 overall, into tonight's game.
Coming out of Rodriguez High in Fairfield, Kelly had to be convinced to continue playing basketball, especially since her grades in high school limited her school choices to community colleges. But at Solano she was an academic all-conference choice as a freshman, and a first-team all-conference pick as a sophomore for her work on the court.
"She's really smart and understands the game very well," Turner said. "She points out things on the court to her teammates, like telling them to take a shot if they pass one up. I'll say something to a kid and she'll say the same thing to them, but differently and in a way they understand better. "She does those things and she's always trying to help her teammates get better."
After tonight's game, the length of Kelly's Stanislaus career will have been reduced by one more tick, down to 13 opening tips, 13 halftimes, 13 final buzzers.
Thirteen chances to make her mark as a Warrior.
"We're like a family and we're together every day," Kelly said. "We practice hard and when we go to the away games we're in the van together for hours.
"To get back on the floor for the first time and to see the trust that my teammates already have in me -- the trust built from all that practice time -- has made all this worth it for me."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.