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Rash of ACL Injuries Have Hit Moniteau Girls Basketball Team Hard With Two Key Players Lost for Season

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Davina Pry and Kendall Sankey both wore their crisp, white Moniteau home basketball uniforms proudly for Senior Night on Monday.

It was the last time either will wear them.

(On Senior Night, Kendall Sankey, No. 30, and Davina Pry, No. 22, wore their Moniteau uniforms for the last time because of torn ACLs in their right knees/submitted photo)

Pry tore the ACL in her right knee during a Powderpuff football game shortly before the season started. Sankey suffered a complete ACL tear in her right knee in a loss to Karns City on Jan. 5.

“It was definitely emotional,” Pry said of Senior Night. “It was hard. That was my first and last time putting on the jersey and standing on the court as a senior. It made me realize I wish I would have never taken the game for granted.”

“It’s not fun,” Sankey said. “It’s definitely tough sometimes because when teams are taller than you, I know I could be out there trying to rebound and trying to do the stuff to help us win.”

Sankey was having a big season before her injury, averaging a double-double and sitting near the top of the state in rebounds.

There was a lot on Sankey’s capable shoulders with Pry, another player who was going to be counted on to get points and boards inside, out for the season.

Pry and Sankey are trying to help any way they can.

Cheyenne Curl has stepped into that role and played well.

“We’ve been helping Cheyenne, who’s now the big man on the floor,” Sankey said. “She’s running the five spot, along with (Sydney Bayless and Emily Matz). Emily is only a freshman. She’s new to this whole thing. We just keep telling them, ‘You have to be confident. You have to be physical. You cannot be afraid of contact.’ We’re here helping. Obviously, we’d rather be playing, but it’s nice knowing that we can also help the newer and the younger girls who aren’t as experienced.”

Sankey already has experience with a torn ACL. She suffered the injury in her left knee during her freshman season.

This injury was much different.

Sankey felt pain with the first one and struggled to even walk.

This time around, the pain and swelling were minimal. That only served to give her some false hope.

“The last one, I tore my meniscus, too. I couldn’t put any weight on it. I could barely do anything,” Sankey said. “This one, I could walk. I could go up stairs. I could do anything a normal person could do. If I wouldn’t have been told that it was completely torn, I would have felt fine and probably would have played on it.”

There was an initial thought to do just that.

Brace it up and soldier on. Players have done it in the past with good results.

But Sankey’s surgeon shut that down.

“He said I could, but it’s just a torn ACL now. Let’s keep it that way,” Sankey said. “Any time I would jump or anything, I could risk dislocating my knee and doing more damage. I didn’t really want to do that. High school basketball is great, but I’d like to be able to walk later in life.”

Plus, Sankey’s position is physically demanding. Mixing it up in the paint and absorbing that much contact would have put her at even more risk.

“Maybe if I was just shooting constantly, but I get beat up underneath,” Sankey said. “It’s not easy under there. It definitely wouldn’t have been easy to play through it.”

While there was some doubt about the extent of Sankey’s knee injury, there was none in the aftermath of Pry’s collision on the football field.

She knew right away it was serious.

“It was devastating,” Pry said. “My first thought as soon as it happened was, (Moniteau girls basketball coach Dee Arblaster) is going to kill me. And then I was hoping it wasn’t going to be anything too major. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”

Pry could barely walk when she left the field that night. An MRI confirmed the damage was severe.

Pry has made progress since her surgery. She has shed the brace and she can drive once again.

Sankey is five weeks behind. The two often commiserate about their struggles — and bad luck.

“We both do rehab together,” Pry said. “We watch the games together now. We try to keep each other company and check in on each other. I think it has been helpful that we’re not alone in the situation. We have each other to talk about what we are feeling and how disappointing it is. But we still get to cheer on our team together, too.”

They are doing more than that.

In addition to handing out advice to the younger players who have had to step into their roles, the two are doing other things to help the team.

“We keep stats,” Pry said. “I watch game film and make scouting reports. Whatever Dee needs me to do. I try to help out as much as I can.”

Unfortunately, the fate of Pry and Sankey is not unique among high school athletes — particularly female ones who are between two and 10 times as likely to suffer a torn ACL than their male peers.

There are many reasons why. Most come down to physiology and biology.

A week after Sankey’s injury, Karns City leading scorer and junior point guard Chloe Fritch also suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in her right knee. She will have surgery on Wednesday and is lost for the season.

Female players with ACL tears dot rosters all over the state and the country.

“Someone asked, ‘Why is this happening to everyone?’” Sankey said. “It seems to always come in spurts. Someone does it and like three or four more people do it. My surgeon told me when I did it the first time that I was a girl and my hips are wider and that puts more weight on (the ACL). And hormones can weaken your ligaments, which is crazy to think about.”

Whatever the reason, it has happened to two key Moniteau players.

The Warriors, though, have not tempered the big goals they have for the season.

Moniteau is 13-5 after a win over Forest on Thursday and is still in a position to make a playoff run.

“Our main goal right now is to just try to boost everyone and make sure everyone is trying their hardest in practice, because we still have high hopes for the team,” Pry said. “We are still capable of so much. I think Kendall and I can still help that even though we can’t play.”