Alexa Fisher, guard on the Olentangy Liberty girls basketball team, hoped to spend the summer before her senior year attracting college coaches at AAU tournaments.
Coming down from a layup attempt in the final of four games played on April 19, she made contact with a post player and landed awkwardly. She heard a pop and knew immediately what that sound meant.
“I landed weird and I felt a pop – everyone says, ‘the pop’, so I knew it was my ACL,” she said.
The doctors diagnosed her with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and partially torn meniscus and she had surgery on May 5.
“When I heard that news, I thought everything was done,” Fisher said. “I wasn’t in the best spirits.”
Her initial reaction to the injury was uncertainty about her future. If she couldn’t play, how were colleges going to scout her? If and when she is cleared to play, will she be the same player that she was before the injury?
Fisher helped the Patriots to the school’s first district title and a trip to the regional tournament averaging a team-leading 16.5 points, 4.9 assists and 3.6 steals per game last season. She set school records in nine categories and tied another.
“Personally, I think she’s one of the best returning seniors in the state,” Liberty coach Sam Krafty said. “Single-handedly, she can take over games for stretches. She’s very explosive. We’re good without her; we’re really, really good with her.”
Fisher spent last season re-writing the school record book.
She set a school record when she scored 34 points against Central Crossing on Dec. 9 and also tied Kennedy Wilke’s school record six three-pointers in a single game.
She set the single-season record for points with 446 and is the all-time leading scorer in school history with 806. If healthy, she should become the first 1,000-point scorer the school has ever had.
Fisher had 131 assists last year, giving her 224 for her career; she had 97 steals last season and 201 for her career; and she made 50 three-pointers last season, giving her a total of 84 for her career — all school records.
“We’ve never had a 1,000-point scorer, boy or girl, in our school,” Krafty said. “When she was in middle school, I told that she was going to be the first 1,000-point scorer that the school’s had. Lex will be our first, hopefully.”
But that’s what a major injury does to an athlete. It creates uncertainty. She had never played AAU before and, though she gained interest last season, she was hoping this summer would solidify a spot in a major college basketball program.
“My name rose (last season) and a lot of the MAC colleges were interested and came to my games. They wanted to see me play AAU because it would be my first true AAU experience,” Fisher said.
She spent the next month on crutches after the surgery, “and that sucked because I’m really go, go, go – I like to run, I like to be active,” she said.
She began physical therapy and something happened as she was doing the work. The doubt subsided. The physical therapy was working.
“It’s definitely better strength-wise now than it was when I tore it,” Fisher said. “So, it’s a good thing.”
“As heartbreaking as watching her go through this injury and the rehab (has been), this is helping her with one of her weaknesses,” Krafty said. “She’s forced to spend time preparing her body through physical therapy and it’s making her mentally tougher. She’s going to be back, she’s going to be stronger and I think faster than she’s ever been.”
Other than physical therapy, she’s mostly worked on her shot, which Krafty joked should help her improve her 64.6 free-throw percentage from last year.
“She’s twice as good a shooter today as she was last year at this time, and it’s because that’s all she’s been able to do the last two months is simply shoot,” the coach said.
Fisher was cleared to run this week.
“That’s pretty big for me,” she said. “I’ve been able to shoot and dribble, so it hasn’t really effected my basketball too much because I’ve been able to shoot. The only thing that’s holding me back right now is just the running and the cutting. Right after I get all of my strength back, that comes pretty easy.”
She won’t be cleared to play until November and hopes to be ready for the first game against Notre Dame Academy on Nov. 21.
“When I’m cleared, to me, that means I’m cleared and I’m going to go my hardest, play with my intensity and that (tenacity),” Fisher said.
As far as recruiting, she hopes that her senior year will be enough for colleges to judge her as a player. She said college coaches will be able to watch workouts in late October. Because she won’t be fully cleared, she’ll only be allowed to do drills.
“That’s the thing – it’s just going to be a different route,” Fisher said. “Right now, it’s out of my control. I can’t really do much other than rehab and just keep my attitude and spirits good. It sucks, it’s been hard because I want to be out there playing. I want to plan out my future and where I want to go.”
Though she doesn’t know specifically what she wants to study in college, she enjoys kids and teaches Sunday school at her church.
Michael Rich can be found on Twitter @mrichdelgazette. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org