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Changing on the fly: Five Lady Rebels dealing with injuries, team learning to cope

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Adams County Christian School girl’s basketball coach Melanie Hall, right, details a drill to Rachel House and her teammates during practice Wednesday morning.

NATCHEZ — After two concussions in a three-week span, Adams County Christian School junior wing player Maggie Ray is playing the waiting game.

Ray said she hopes to get cleared today by the doctor so she can return to action for the Lady Rebels. But she hasn’t been alone in dealing with injury this season — the injury bug has also bitten four of her teammates.

Guard Tory Laird suffered a sprained ankle early in the season. Abby Givens, Nikki Worthey and Skylar Adams have also sustained concussions, with Givens likely out for the year because of the injury.

“It’s been tough,” Ray said about watching the injuries pile up. “It’s been challenging. You think, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s happening,’ but through the challenges, God is better preparing us for life. If He does this for us at a young age, imagine what He’ll do when we get older.”

Several Lady Rebel players have had to step up by either switching positions or being thrust into starting roles. It’s not an easy transition, but ACCS girls head coach Melanie Hall has been teaching her players the importance of letting God work through the tough times in their lives.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Jordan Petty looks to pass while defended by teammate Mackenzie Boyd during drills at practice.

“They’re doing the best they can to persevere and overcome whatever they can for the team,” Hall said. “I go to the scriptures a lot for strength, encouragement, wisdom… everything that I personally can use as their coach to guide and get them through these times.”

Ray said she and the team have taken to heart Hall’s advice on how to battle through adversity.

“That’s her big thing, helping us look at the big picture,” Ray said. “It’s hard right now, so later we’ll be able to coast through this.”

After recovering from her ankle injury, Laird has been playing primarily at point guard, even though her natural position is shooting guard. Though she’s willing to do whatever is needed to help the team, Laird said she definitely prefers shooting guard.

“It’s hard (adjusting),” Laird said. “Last year, all I was thinking about was shoot, shoot, shoot. This year, I’m wanting to shoot, but I know I have to pass more.”

Freshman Jordan Petty’s adjustments have been twofold. Not only does she have to start as a freshman, but she’s also playing small forward a lot after primarily being power forward in junior high.

Petty said the toughest part is switching back and forth between positions, depending on who else is on the court.

“It takes a minute to adjust,” said Petty, who also plays shooting guard and center at times.

Though starting as a freshman wasn’t originally the coaches’ plans, Petty said she’s been able to handle the pressure well because of her teammates.

“I know we can make it together,” Petty said. “Now that I’ve gotten to play more and understand more about high school basketball, it’s really not that difficult.”

Despite seeing several of her teammates swap positions, Worthey has stayed at center up to this point in the season. She said she’s glad to do what she’s familiar with, but she’s not oblivious to her teammates’ struggles.

“I know it’s hard on the other people on the team,” Worthey said.

Her advice: Don’t let the hard times dictate how you play.

“Don’t take a play off, because before you know it, it’s over and done with,” Worthey said. “You have to play through the rough times.”

Givens, a senior, said it’s tough knowing she may not make it out on the court again in her final season, but being on the sidelines does give her a unique look when it comes to giving her teammates advice.

“If I see them do something wrong, I can let the coaches know or say something to (the players),” Givens said. “You can see more by watching than you can when you’re out there playing.”

As happy as she is about still being able to play, Worthey said she hates seeing her teammates sidelined.

“It’s hard coming back after you’re hurt, but it’s twice as hard knowing one of your teammates is sitting on the bench and nothing can be done about it,” Worthey said.

Though she and her players have done their best to navigate their way through the injuries, Hall said she still has trouble wrapping her mind around everything that’s happened this season.

“It just makes you wonder, ‘What in the world?’” Hall said. “I don’t know. I don’t have the answers. I just don’t know.”