Connect with us

Basketball

BATTLING BACK: Keystone’s Sydney Bell Returns to Basketball Court After Long Recovery From Fractured Ankle

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — A few inches of plastic may have saved Sydney Bell’s senior season.

And from a catastrophic injury.

Bell, a senior on the Keystone volleyball and basketball teams, wears ankle braces when she competes.

On Aug. 22, she was going up for a block during volleyball practice when she came down on the foot of a teammate, rolling her right ankle awkwardly and severely.

“I definitely feared the worst,” Bell said. “It was my senior year of volleyball and I wanted to raise the bar and do more.”

Bell was diagnosed with just a sprain. Months later she discovered it was was far worse.

At that it could have been far more serious.

“If I didn’t wear braces,” Bell said, “my leg would have snapped in half.”

Heeter Lumber Logo 2 (1)
Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and D9Sports.com is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Bell was back on the volleyball court just a few weeks after suffering the injury, but she was never right. She hobbled through the season as a middle and outside hitter, dealing with the pain and swelling and discomfort the best she could.

Still, she played well enough to help Keystone reach the District 9 Class 2A finals for the third consecutive year.

Through it all, however, she knew something was amiss. Deep down, she knew there was more wrong with her ankle than a simple sprain.

Three of her teammates also suffered ankle injuries early in the season. They had all recovered fully.

But not Bell.

“We took our senior trip to Washington D.C. (in November) and it was really hurting and swelled really big,” Bell said. “I told my mom, ‘Something’s not right.’ I had to put my brace on for the last three days because I just couldn’t do it without it.”

Bell soldiered on, preparing for her basketball season. The ankle was feeling a bit better and she had a strong two weeks of practice.

Keystone coach Andy Traister believed Bell was going to be an integral part of the team.

“She played two scrimmages and was looking really good — she’s a really good rebounder,” Traister said. “But the last scrimmage, she started to limp and she went to the doctor. I didn’t know if I was going to get her back.”

The doctor had startling news for Bell.

Her initial injury was a break, not just a sprain, and the fracture was in a unique place, at the very bottom of her tibia.

Over the months that followed, as Bell jumped and ran and did all the things an athlete needed to do to compete, tiny pieces of the bone were splintering off.

The largest chip of bone is still lodged near her Achilles tendon. Doctors told her wit would dissolve over time.

But Bell had to press pause on all activities. Immediately.

“They said if they wouldn’t have caught it at the time, I probably would have needed surgery to get it repaired,” Bell said. “The bottom of the bone was literally chipping away.”

Bell figured her basketball season was over. There was no firm timetable on her recovery.

“It was definitely frustrating because the first two weeks of practice, we practiced with me being in there,” Bell said.

“I was prepared to not have her all year,” Traister added.

But Bell’s recovery was swift.

Recently, she shed the boot and was cleared to return. To Bell, it was like being released from prison.

Bell finally made her season debut on Monday night against A-C Valley.

When she entered the game, her teammates and the Keystone fans assembled cheered loudly. Bell’s smile was as bright as the gym lights.

A few moments later, she received a pass inside and scored. Again, her teammates and the Panther fans erupted.

“That was with my left hand, too,” Bell said, laughing.

All Bell could do during her recovery, while wearing a bulky boot, was shoot from a stationary position.

She cheated — she wasn’t permitted to do even that.

But Bell saw improvement from putting up shots off her left foot only.

“Believe it or not, I did better with one foot than I did off of two,” Bell said, chuckling.

Bell said the ankle is holding up without the boot. The swelling is minimal. For the first time since August, she feels like the end of her ordeal is near.

“I’m really hoping this is it,” Bell said. “I wasn’t really supposed to play (on Monday), maybe a little bit Wednesday, but I went to physical therapy on Friday and they told me it was really strong, considering I was in a boot. I practiced Friday. I’m just glad to be back.

“I do basketball for the fun of it,” she said. “It’s just fun.”

Bell said she was touched by the reaction from the fans and her teammates when she entered the game and scored.

It’s something she will always remember.

“It was really neat,” she said. “It made me feel good.”

Heeter Lumber Logo 2 (1)
Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and D9Sports.com is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.