The Grain Valley boys basketball team lost their water boy earlier this week.
And coach Andy Herbert couldn't be happier, as once injured Cole Keller is now back on the court with his Eagles teammates.
“The kid never missed a practice, and got the guys water during our games. He wanted to be a part of everything even though he was injured,” Herbert said of the junior forward.
“We brought him back slowly in our last game Tuesday, and he plays about two and a half quarters and scores 15 points and has six or eight rebounds. He didn’t skip a beat. It just comes naturally to him.”
Senior guard Seth Dankenbring agrees, adding, “For Cole, it’s like riding a bicycle. He got on the court and did his thing. It’s great to have him back as a player, a teammate and most of all, as a friend. He’s going to make us so much better in the playoffs.”
Keller, the Eagles’ starting quarterback the past two years, suffered a second degree MCL tear and a partial PCL tear in his knee Nov. 1 in a district football game against Raytown South.
He and his family chose extensive rehab work over surgery and he missed all of this basketball season until Tuesday’s regular season finale.
“I thought I was going to miss basketball and baseball,” said the junior three-sport standout. “I actually tore my PCL during rehab, when my heel dug in while I was sprinting and it just popped.
“But the doctors told me I could still make it back in time for the end of the basketball season and the start of the baseball season. It was so good to get back on the court Tuesday, and now, I have a couple of practice days with the guys until we play Saturday.”
The Eagles play Pembroke Hill at 4 p.m. Saturday in their opening Class 4 District 14 game at Oak Grove High School.
“Oh man, I’m so excited about Saturday,” Keller said. “I really appreciate Coach Herbert getting me in a game before district because I was able to test the knee – and it felt great.
“I was out of sync defensively, but offense came to me right away. I think I was 7 of 11 from the floor, and I hope I can help the team out in districts.”
Herbert believes the lanky forward will add a new dimension to this team.
“With his talent, size and length he is going to make an impact,” the coach said. “He looked good Tuesday, and we’ll work him into more of the game Saturday.
“He’s so competitive and such a great athlete, it’s just great to have him back while we’re playing our most important games of the year.”