NORMAL -- Seeing is believing.|
Rolled ankles? We've all seen those.
Yeah, it must have been tough for Annawan junior Celina VanHyfte to play in the Class 1A girls' basketball state semifinal on Friday. But, she was out there so how bad could it have been?
The minute the athletic trainer cut the tape off of her ankle outside the locker room at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena, seeing was absolutely and totally believing.
Purple from the middle of the shin down to the heel of her right leg, VanHyfte's injury is more than your average rolled ankle.
She played 24 minutes, 10 seconds of the Bravettes' 39-38 loss to Freeport Aquin in the Class 1A Final Four at Redbird Arena, including the entire fourth quarter.
During the 7:50 she was not in the game, she paced the sidelines like a prize fighter waiting to get into the ring.
That wasn't anticipation, though. The constant movement was necessary.
"I have to continue staying in pain to keep my range of motion," said the all-state forward. "Standing on the sidelines was the worst feeling in the world.
"I felt like I had to be out there, like that was what was stopping us."
In the fourth quarter, VanHyfte rose up. Somehow, someway, she gave more.
After going just 2-for-7 on field goals through the first three quarters, VanHyfte scored three straight baskets in the opening minutes of the fourth to give Annawan a seven-point lead. That was the Bravettes' biggest lead of the game.
After the game, wrought with emotion, VanHyfte tried to put words to her emotion of finally being at the state tournament but not being able to produce like she wants.
"The doctors told her that pain will tell her her limits," Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz said. "I told her, 'You tell me what you can do.' Every time I took her out, she said, `Put me back in.'"
On one good leg, VanHyfte nearly lifted the Bravettes to today's state-title game. She finished in double-digits, again, with 12 points. She also had five rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Since Monday's super-sectional game, in which VanHyfte didn't come in until the third quarter, social media exploded over talk of her ankle.
Getting to Redbird Arena on Friday morning, I was stopped several times and asked about the leg, but I didn't know any more than those who asked.
Watching her play, she didn't look great, but she didn't look awful either. A good guess would have been 75- to 80-percent healthy.
That would have been a bad guess.
It turned out that no matter how swollen her ankle got, it still wasn't as big as her heart.
"If you could see her ankle, I don't know how she did it," Burkiewicz said. "I couldn't believe what she did."
Well, coach, seeing is believing.
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