p>Carolyn Hennecken suspended her left leg off the floor as she made her way to the middle of Lakeside High School's court with the aid of silver crutches.
Hennecken, the Panthers senior guard who helped Lakeside to its first state playoff berth, tore her anterior cruciate ligament during a region tournament game and missed playing in the state playoff contest at Statesboro.
Hennecken is The Columbia County News-Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year for helping lead the Panthers to that game, though she couldn't be on the floor. She sported a black brace around the knee last week after surgery and moved slowly. Before the injury, she was a methodical guard who could force her way to the basket or hit the outside shot when left uncontested.
The junior was named first-team Region 3-AAAA. She was Lakeside's steadiest player, averaging more than 14 points per game and adding more than four assists, four rebounds and three steals.
During the season, Panthers girls basketball coach Moe McCormack copied game footage onto DVDs and gave them to her point guard. Other players wanted game footage to make highlight videos to woo college coaches. Hennecken broke down the games with her dad and came to practice prepared to tell her teammates what changes might need to be made and where they needed to be on the floor.
She took notes during the Statesboro game that eliminated Lakeside from the Class AAAA playoffs.
Hennecken said she learned to become a more vocal leader. Before, teammates were forced to read her lips to know what she was saying. But with McCormack trying a variety of different offenses and defenses, and with as much as Hennecken prepared, she was required to tell her teammates where to go.
"Carolyn probably studied film more than me," McCormack said.
Hennecken is friends with teammate Stephanie Allen, a soccer player who has suffered multiple knee injuries. Hennecken said she has talked with Allen about what to expect. She will probably be off the basketball court for months.
The timing of the injury should work out OK for McCormack and the Panthers next season.
Hennecken and backcourt mate Tishal Turknett should be back for a final high school season.
Hennecken said she will miss a significant opportunity to showcase her game to college coaches, but expects to have the chance during her senior year if all goes well.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.