By BEN JOHNSON
She knew immediately that something was wrong. The pain was unlike anything she’d ever experienced before.
That was the scene on Saturday night at The Place Where They Play. Sequoyah’s Audrey Ballou was withering in pain with only 45 seconds left until halfime in a Class 3A district contest against Keys.
“I felt terrible,” Ballou said. “I knew right away that something was really wrong with my knee. I’ve never felt that type of pain before.”
The prognosis was unknown at the time, but Sequoyah coach Larry Callison had a feeling of what it might have been: a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“I heard it pop,” Callison said. “The trainer said, ‘we won’t know 100 percent until the MRI, but it feels like a torn ACL.”
Ballou visited the doctor on Monday, but she had already come to terms that she’d be out for the rest of the playoffs.
“I hate that it had to happen my senior year at the beginning of the playoffs, but I’m trying to stay optimistic because everything happens for a reason,” Ballou said in an interview with the Tahlequah Daily Press. “God will get me through this.”
Now No. 5 Sequoyah (22-1) will embark on the rest of the postseason with Ballou merely as a spectator. The Lady Indians’ first game without Ballou — who was averaging 13.2 points per game — will be Thursday against Heavener in the first round of the regional tournament at Heavener.
“Hopefully it’ll be kind of a motivational deal and other girls will step up and player harder,” Callison said. But it’s a blow [to lose Ballou], no doubt.”
When asked about the matchup with Heavener, Callison said winning and advancing to the regional championship game on Saturday night in Wilburton shouldn’t be an issue.
“If we go to play, we’re in good shape on Thursday night,” Callison said. “We have enough depth and should have someone step in and do a good job.”
Ballou said that she hates that she can’t continue to help out her teammates, but she added that they’ve very supportive knowing that Ballou will be relegated to the sidelines.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” Ballou said. “After our game (against Keys), Cenia (Hayes) sat with me in the locker room for a really long time, and we just talked about how the rest of the season is going to go. I have faith in them and I know that they’ll do amazing things. And I’ll be with them every step of the way.”
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Thursday (at Deer Creek)
Tahlequah vs. Del City, 6:30 p.m.
Deer Creek vs. Durant, 8 p.m.
(Winners advance to regional finals on Saturday at 1:30; losers are eliminated)
Friday (at Deer Creek)
NW Classen vs. Pryor, 6:30 p.m.
Deer Creek vs. Tahlequah, 8 p.m.
(Winners advance to regional finals on Saturday at 7; losers are eliminated)
Sequoyah vs. Heavener, 6:30 p.m. (at Heavener)
Holdenville vs. Antlers, 6:30 p.m. (at Wilburton)
(Losers fall to consolation bracket on Friday at 1:30 and 6:30; winners advance to regional finals at 6:30 on Saturday at Wilburton)
Keys vs. Idabel, 1:30 p.m. (at Heavener)
(Loser is eliminated; winner advances in the consolation bracket to face the Holdenville/Antlers loser at 1:30 on Friday in Wilburton).
Sequoyah vs. Idabel, 8 p.m. (at Heavener)
Sulphur vs. Antlers, 8 p.m. (at Wilburton)
(Losers fall to consolation bracket on Friday at 3 and 8; winners advance to regional finals at 6:30 on Saturday at Wilburton)
Thursday (at Kiefer)
Hulbert vs. Oklahoma Union, 1:30 p.m.
(Loser is eliminated; winner advances to face the loser of Tonkawa/Pawnee on Friday at 6:30 at Kiefer)
Thursday (at Kiefer)
Hulbert vs. Quapaw, 3 p.m.
(Loser is eliminated; winner advances to face the loser of Tonkawa/Pawnee on Friday at 8 at Kiefer)