DuBOIS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Lexey Shick sometimes reflects on the journey she has taken in her basketball career, traveling a road as winding as the ones surrounding her hometown of Rimersburg.
Shick, now 22 and a senior at Penn State DuBois, has been through a great deal in her young life. She’s faced more trials and stared down more adversity than most.
Between her junior and senior years at Union High School, Shick tore the ACL in her left knee. She recovered from that, but spent several years searching for a home at the next level, attending three different colleges. She had to sit idle for two full seasons through a transfer and a pandemic.
Finally, all that is behind her. Finally Shick is back on the basketball court. Wiser, sure, but also stronger and more determined than ever to leave her mark for the Lions.
“It’s been a ride,” Shick said, chuckling. “I’ll say that.”
Shick was a standout point guard for the Damsels. She had the ability to slash to the hoop with her quickness as well as shoot from the outside. The 5-foot-5 Shick averaged 14.5 points per game as a sophomore and 14.8 points per game as a junior.
But then her first bout with adversity hit.
During an AAU basketball game at the end of May in 2016, Shick blew out her knee.
“We were going for a fast break. I just jumped up and, when I came down, I felt something in my knee and I instantly went to the floor,” Shick said. “At that moment, I knew it wasn’t good. I had to be carried off the court. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it.”
Shick, though, was determined to return for her senior campaign. She rehabilitated the surgically repaired knee diligently and was cleared to play in less than six months — one day before the tip-off to her final high school season.
The injury did little to hamper her game or her playing style. As aggressive as ever going to the rim, Shick averaged 15.9 points per game. She also surpassed 1,000 points in her career with the Damsels.
Shick moved on to Juniata College, but soon realized it wasn’t the right fit for her. She transferred to Clarion University after just one year at Juniata and thought her basketball days were over.
She decided after one year at Clarion to change majors. Clarion didn’t have the occupational therapy program she wanted, so she went to Penn State DuBois and joined the women’s basketball team there.
During the 2019-20 season, she shined, averaging 10.7 points her game.
Shick was looking forward to another strong year in 20-21, but the season was canceled because of COVID-19.
“I was excited for that next year. I mean, with the team we had coming back and the recruits coming in, we were going to be set. We were going to be really good,” Shick said. “So it was devastating to find out we couldn’t have a season.
“There were nights when I was mad and asked, ‘Why? Why did this have to happen? Why are other teams playing but we’re not?’” Shick added. “Then I decided, ‘You know what, I’m just going to use this time to work harder and have a great season the next year.’ I was just trying to look forward and keep a positive mindset.”
With the season opener at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford on Thursday, Shick is ready to pen the last chapter of her basketball story.
She wants to make it a good one.
“I’m thankful to at least get this season,” Shick said. “Last year was so sad.”
It will be a challenging campaign for Shick and Penn State DuBois.
The Lions don’t have a home court and will play every game on the road. Meanwhile, Shick is doing her clincials in Brookville and may have some scheduling conflicts.
“All our games are away this year, so that’s going to be interesting,” Shick said. “Even though we play away all the time, it’s OK. We have to stay positive. That season we had two years ago, we played better on the road than we did at home. Even though we’re away all the time, it doesn’t change anything. We’ll play hard and we’ll manage.”
She still hopes to play in every game. That could be tricky because of her schedule and all the traveling.
Shick, though, has learned to look for the positive in everything.
“That’s the one thing that will be rough — driving to all those games and coming off the bus a little tired. Having to beat a team in their gym with their fans,” Shick said. “It’ll make us stronger as a team. We’re going to be together so much traveling, I think our chemistry will be even better and that will probably be reflected on the floor.”
Shick and fellow senior Cierra O’Shell are the only two players on the Penn State DuBois roster with any college basketball experience. O’Shell will only be with the team through the fall semester before she graduates.
That leaves a lot of the leadership responsibility on Shick’s shoulders.
Penn State DuBois women’s basketball coach Pat Lewis said Shick is the unquestioned leader.
“I selected Lexey as one of our co-captains this year because of her leadership skills and basketball skills,” Lewis said. “She is truly a floor general and will make our offense go. She gives 100% every time her feet hit the floor. We couldn’t be luckier than to have Lexey providing her invaluable leadership to the very, very young squad this year. We are a better team when she is on the floor.”
Shick said being a leader is one of the easiest things she has to do these days.
“I can relate pretty easily with them,” Shick said. “I was in their shoes once. Now I’m older. I can set an example and help them. I pull them aside individually and talk to them. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. The thing is to learn from them and not dwell on them. Shake it off.”
Shaking it off is what Shick has done best throughout her winding basketball journey.
That experience has taught her to relish every moment. When she runs out onto the court at Pitt Bradford — and all the other courts after that this year — she’s going to remember to take a second and appreciate it.
One last time. One final ride.
“I’m really excited, but also nervous,” Shick said. “I can’t believe it’s going to be my last first game. It’s finally hitting me now that it’s getting closer and closer to being over. I’m going to really cherish every game and play my hardest. I’m going to play every game like it’s my last and also have fun with it, too.
“I think I’m ready,” she added. “I know my role is going to be a bit more important this year. I’ll be looking for my shots more than I have sometimes. I put in the work. I really want this to be one of the best years I’ve ever had. I want to make that happen.”