Lakeland junior Kaidan Kelsey needed 7 1/2 months to recover from a skull fracture.
Her return this winter has been refreshing to her and the Lakeland basketball team.
Last spring, Kelsey, a three-sport athlete, was in a 100-meter high hurdles race when she tripped over a hurdle, landing awkwardly on her head. She spent a couple of days in ICU.
“It was pretty ugly at the time,” Lakeland track coach Lee Libera said. “It’s as bad a crash as I’ve seen in a long, long time.”
A starter as a sophomore at middle hitter in volleyball, Kelsey was allowed to go to practices last fall but her involvement was restricted. She wasn’t allowed to scrimmage and she always had to be facing the action so she wouldn’t be hit in the head with a volleyball.
She eased her way back into basketball. She couldn’t play in the first two games. Then her doctor gave her a full release.
“It was weird at first because I had been out of it so long,” Kelsey said. “It took me a while to get my rhythm back. It was awkward.”
She admitted being fearful of hurting herself.
“My first two games I was a nervous wreck,” she said. “I didn’t want to get hit and I didn’t want to foul anybody.”
Kelsey, a 6-foot post, has averaged 8.9 points, second best on the team, and a team-leading 6.5 rebounds.
Lakeland basketball coach Steve Seymour certainly hoped Kelsey would return, even though she couldn’t participate in summer play.
“We needed her firepower, but we had to temper wanting her back with understanding the serious head trauma she endured,” Seymour said. “You’re a coach who wants to win but you’re also a coach who realizes there’s more than winning and losing. We knew we had to be patient.”
Seymour has been impressed.
“She’s quietly had a really good season,” he said.
Kelsey, who was the track team’s top long and triple jumper last spring before the injury, plans to return to track, but not to hurdling.
“I didn’t really want to hurdle last year,” she said. “I could do it but I didn’t have a passion to be a great hurdler.”
She has no memory of the accident: “I remember things before it happened, but I only remember waking up the next morning,” she said.
They had to go to the eighth of 14 tiebreaking criteria to decide the Northeast A League wrestling showdown between Freeman and Lakeside last week in Nine Mile Falls.
Beginning at 106 pounds, Lakeside won the first seven matches for a 34-0 lead. Freeman rallied, taking the final seven to tie the score at 34-all.
Then the coaches spent 10 minutes poring over the rulebook to see which criterium would break the tie. It came down to which school scored the most first points of each match, and Freeman, which captured a second straight league title, outscored the Eagles 14-11.
“It was nerve racking,” Freeman coach Chad Ripke said. “It was a great atmosphere and both teams were very competitive. It had a crazy flow of momentum.”
Lakeside has been the NEA power for several years.
“Back in our rough years I always wanted our program to be like Lakeside,” Ripke said. “I have a lot of respect for (them).”
The Mead boys basketball team has the best scoring balance in the GSL.
Coming into the week, four starters were averaging between 10.3 and 10.1 ppg.
“The balance is a bit uncanny,” Mead coach Glenn Williams said. “I can’t remember a team I’ve coached with such an equal dispersion of points. My first thought masters the obvious: that the kids are willing to share the ball. A deeper look might reveal the fact that because we press a lot, the floor is broken often and different kids get to score from steals/turnovers. We also fast break in a manner where we will outlet the ball to anyone (we’re essentially a team of guards).”
Mead has locked up no worse than the fourth and final seed to the district tournament and is three games behind Ferris and Gonzaga Prep, which are tied for second.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.