Ally Young scored the first basket of the season for the Fort Osage High School girls basketball team.
Moments later, she tore her ACL, and the spark plug guard immediately thought her senior season had come to an end.
But she was wrong. Surgery was not necessary, but she faced a daunting rehabilitation process.
Because of more hours of rehab and training than she could ever imagine, she returned to join her teammates on the court Tuesday night before a standing-room-only crowd that witnessed a thrilling girls-boys doubleheader against Winnetonka.
Following Young’s layup, the entire student body section stood and cheered wildly, joined by her teammates on the court and on the bench in the Indians’ 72-41 victory over the Griffins.
Tears were flowing, hugs abounded and the biggest smile in the gym belonged to Young.
“That was an amazing moment,” said Young, who wears a brace on her right knee. “I’ve been back the past two games, but just played a few seconds, to see what it would be like. Tonight, scoring that basket, well, it was so special.
“I couldn’t have gotten through this without my parents, my coaches, my teammates, my friends and my doctor and the rehab staff. They got me back to the game I love. I knew if I had surgery, my season would be over.
“And Dr. (Greg) Hummel told me if I worked hard at rehab, I could make it back this season. That seems like such a long time ago, and here I am.”
When asked if she was nervous stepping on the court, she nodded in agreement.
“I am still nervous,” Young said, “and so are the girls on the team. They have always been there for me and I want to be able to come back and not only play, but help this team win. It’s my senior year and I am so thankful to everyone that I am back on the court.”
So is coach Lindsay Thompson, so said Young, Camryn Miller and Peyton Huber are “the three babies I have watched grow up since their freshman year.
“They were freshmen when I came to Fort Osage to coach and they are all so special to me. To see Ally come back from that ACL injury – just a few minutes into our first game – inspires all of us. And we’re having a pretty good season.
“Tonight, I played 12 girls and they all contributed. This is a special team, a very special team, with special girls.”
Miller led the Indians with 15 points and said she is experiencing a dream season after being on a team that won just two games last year.
“We’re 7-7, so we’ve won three times as many games as we won last year,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else – with any other girls or any other coaches. I am so blessed to be at Fort Osage and we’re all having so much fun this season.”
The Indians ran off to a 27-17 first-quarter lead and never looked back Tuesday night.
Despite that lead, Thompson got a message across in the halftime locker room, as her team led 38-29.
“For some reason, the third quarter has been our bugaboo,” Thompson said, “and I told the girls to go out and play with a lot of intensity.”
They took a 55-39 lead into the fourth quarter and blew the game open as they held the Griffins to just two points in the final eight minutes of action.
“Coach told us to put our foot on their throat, and we did,” Miller said. “We didn’t want them coming back after we worked so hard to get that lead in the first half.”
Rachel Buntin added nine points for the Indians and Winnetonka’s Joelle Egeland led all scorers with 16 points.