Her father played college basketball. Her mother, too. Her sister is now a senior guard at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y.
Kiara McIntyre also has a passion for the game.
And basketball has helped see the Needham High senior through the grieving process after the sudden passing of her father, Korrie McIntyre, at age 41 in February 2018.
“The game, I love it so much,” said the 17-year-old McIntyre, a Dorchester resident who has attended Needham public schools since first grade through the Metco program.
“The adrenaline and everything just helps me get my mind off things that I want to get my mind off of.”
McIntyre, a returning Globe All-Scholastic for the third-ranked Rockets (13-1), speaks with an unwavering positivity and a constant radiant smile.
From her older sister’s perspective, Kiara’s attraction to basketball, during good times and bad, is all for the right reasons.
“Basketball definitely helps her cope,” said Takora McIntyre, who was the Globe’s Division 4 Player of the Year as a senior at Fenway High before starting her college career at Temple, followed by a transfer to Saint Rose.
“She took it very well, I think, for her age. She did the right thing by letting basketball be her outlet.”
Her parents were not together during most of girls’ lives. Takora and Kiara live with their mother, Talena Wilson. But Korrie often attended his daughters’ games. When the girls were young, they’d play games in the park with their father.
“Everything that I do is for him, because basketball was his life,” Kiara said. “He loved it. He was always my number one fan.”
When her father passed, Kiara missed just one practice. She was in the midst of a breakout season for the Rockets, one in which she averaged 15.3 points per game in helping lead Needham to its first Division 1 South final in a decade.
“I think she was on that trajectory, she was going,” Needham coach Amanda Sheehy said. “I certainly think [her father’s passing] gave her one more step up . . . It was more so like, ‘This is the thing I love, and this is what makes me forget about life, so I’m going to put all my energy and all my positivity and everything in this sport and in my team,’ and now we’re looking at these results.”
Her growth was not limited to the court. Kiara noticed she was not shying away from being a helping hand.
“It’s helped me be a more vocal leader — I’ve been through it all,” she said. “I know that life is definitely hard. I know when my teammates are having trouble, it can be hard, but they can get through it.”
This past fall, Kiara signed a national letter of intent to continue her education and basketball career at Saint Leo University, a Division 2 Catholic school in Central Florida.
First, she hopes to lead the Rockets to a state championship.
“We’ve seen a taste of how close we can get to a state championship,” said Kiara, who, at 5-foot-7, is averaging 14 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and three assists per game. “We’ve seen how good it feels, and now we’re chasing for everything.
“I want to do it for [my father], and I want to be the best I can be for him . . . That’s what pushed me to get in the gym more and be the best I can be.”
As Kiara and Takora McIntyre have grown older, they’ve become closer.
“Our relationship is like having a best friend. I can go to her with whatever, even though she’s four years younger,” Takora said. “Basketball isn’t everything in our family. It may seem like it from the outside because all of the accolades and experience.
“We’re just a really close-knit family.”
Approaching the two-year anniversary of her father’s death, McIntyre credits the game, along with her mother and sister, for helping pull her through. Her vibrant personality and dogged work ethic have been pivotal, too.
■ In a Cape Ann League thriller Friday night, Lynnfield defeated Masconomet for the first time since 2003 — a span of 23 games — on a last-second layup from junior Grace Klonski for a 37-35 victory.
There were just seven seconds left on the clock when the Pioneers (5-6) put the ball in play from the opposite baseline. But coach Peter Bocchino knew where to turn. “I’ve never seen someone in my life run and dribble as fast [as Klonski],” he said. “She can get down the court in five seconds with the ball, maybe less.”
With teammates spread out around her and the Chieftains (9-2) in foul trouble, Klonski took the inbound pass the length of the court, blew by her marker and layed in the winner with 0.4 seconds left on the clock.
“The girls celebrated like they just won the state championship . . . they were so elated,” said Bocchino.
■ Ashley Keleher became the first girls’ basketball player at Mashpee, and just the third athlete in school history, to reach the 1,000-point scoring mark. She entered Tuesday night needing 12 points to reach the milestone. She hit itwith a free throw in the third quarter, finishing with 15 points in a 56-40 loss to Middleborough.
■ Donna Andersen, the 27-year field hockey coach at Triton Regional, has taken over as the girls’ basketball coach for the remainder of the season with the sudden resignation of Dan Boyle on Monday. The Vikings (3-10) defeated Ipswich, 41-39, in Andersen’s first game at the helm on Tuesday night.
■ Concord-Carlisle and Acton-Boxborough honored Kobe Bryant’s memory on Tuesday night. The shot clock was set to 24 seconds for the opening possession, instead of the usual 30, and allowed to run out as players and fans joined in a standing ovation.
Games to Watch
Friday, O’Bryant at Latin Academy, 6 p.m. — Fiona Mannion, Jordan Bellot and the Dragons (8-5) look to separate themselves atop the Boston City League North as they host the Tigers (7-4).
Friday, Newton North at Natick, 6:30 p.m. — Yale-bound Brenna McDonald and the No. 6 Red Hawks (10-2) host Caroline Alexander and the No. 12 Tigers (11-3) in a battle at the top of the Bay State Conference.
Friday, Canton at Foxborough, 6:30 p.m. — Fresh off of an upset win over Oliver Ames, the Bulldogs (8-7) hit the road against sharp-shooting Katelyn Mollica and the No. 13 Warriors (11-2).
Tuesday, Walpole at Natick, 6:30 p.m. — The Rebels (10-5) take on the No. 6 Red Hawks (10-2) with a chance to climb back into the Globe Top 20 with a win.
Greg Levinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seamus McAvoy also contributed.