SAND ROCK – Sand Rock senior guard Haylee Stansell understood the risk. She suffered a severely strained ACL on her right knee back on Dec. 12 against Susan Moore, but she didn’t let that stop her from making her way back to the court for senior night on Friday against Class 2A, Area 12 rival Gaston.
Stansell not only started, but she delivered 11 points, including three 3-pointers, to go along with three steals and an assist in the Lady Wildcats’ 68-26 victory.
“It felt good just to be able to come back,” Stansell said. “Working at therapy has been hard. My ACL is strained, and at any time it could snap or pop. It’s been up to me if I wanted to play. I love the game of basketball, so I wanted to play.
“I’ve had several of the other girls come up to me and say ‘You’re really strong.’ That meant a lot to me. I never want to give up.”
Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates said she admires Stansell’s heart, but she couldn’t help but cringe a few times during the game, concerned for Stansell’s well-being.
“I’m like ‘No contact Haylee. Don’t go in there for a layup,'” Bates said. “She’s been going to therapy every day this week, going ‘I want to play on Friday.’ They’ve been trying to get her to where she can play. She wants to be out there so badly. The doctor said she could go because it can’t get too much worse. She was just happy to be out there playing.
“It’s great for our kids to see. They know how much she wants to be out there. It’s really good to have a girl on your team like that who you can look up to and who has that kind of grit and guts. She just has a lot of heart.”
That grit and guts seemed to inspire the rest of Stansell’s teammates.
Lanie Henderson led the Lady Wildcats (11-7, 3-1) with 16 points, including three treys of her own. She also had four rebounds, four steals and a block. Maci Brown managed 10 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and a steal. Arleigh Beard posted nine points, seven rebounds and two assists. Makenzi Blackwell contributed eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers. She also had five assists, two steals and two rebounds. Emilee Burton had seven points. Cheyanne Fuqua finished with nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, two blocks and two points.
Makiyah Underwood topped Gaston with six points. Tracionna Jones added five points.
Sand Rock jumped out to a 23-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Wildcats led 38-16 at halftime and built a 52-20 advantage by the end of the third quarter.
Sand Rock 63, Gaston 23
SAND ROCK – Sand Rock boys basketball coach John Blackwell almost got the Wildcats’ senior night against Class 2A, Area 12 opponent Gaston off to a bad start on Friday .
It’s been a custom for the Wildcats to wear retro jerseys to help celebrate the occasion each year, but Blackwell had forgotten about his players’ number changes.
“I wrote down the regular numbers in my scorebook and then I realized when we were going out to get ready I had to scratch out those numbers and put the retro numbers in. The numbers back then don’t match the numbers we have now,” Blackwell said.
Some of the numbers may not have matched what the Wildcats are accustomed to wearing, and the starting five might have been a bit different, but there was one number Sand Rock is used to seeing: the winning tally on the end of the scoreboard.
Jacob St. Clair came off the bench and connected on five 3-pointers, finishing with 17 points, and Garyn Sharpe tossed in 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a 63-23 victory.
Xander Bradley added 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks for the Wildcats (13-3, 4-0). Cade Ballenger came off the bench to post nine points, seven steals and five assists.
Kaden Justice and Logan Wood both grabbed seven boards apiece. Wood also delivered four steals and four assists.
Behind unselfish play, the Wildcats jumped out to a 21-8 first-quarter advantage. They kept up the pace in the second, taking a 39-13 edge at halftime.
Will Bagley led the Bulldogs with nine points. Nick Lewis finished with six points.