In December, the Northwood girls’ basketball team experienced the basketball equivalent of being struck by lightning.
Within a 24-hour period, senior starters Jazanae Billings, Bryn Aydt and Erika Nettles each suffered season-ending ACL injuries.
As one might expect, it was tough for coach Cameron Vernon and his players to accept the reality of suddenly losing three vital players out of the blue in such a bizarre manner.
“I don’t know if we’re ever going to fully recover from that,” Vernon said. “We’re just a different team. But it’s been really nice to see some kids step up.”
Although it might have felt like it, Northwood’s season didn’t end at that point.
In reality, it was just getting started.
With the final month of the regular season approaching, Northwood has proven that it’s still a talented team.
The Chargers (17-5, 8-2 Big 8 3A) started the season with seven wins in a row and find themselves in second place in the Big 8 Conference, behind undefeated Orange.
Much of that success comes from the play of seniors Kristian Eanes and Kadie Snipes, both of whom have been reliable go-to players on offense.
That showed last Saturday in Northwood’s 22-point win over rival Jordan-Matthews, as the duo combined for 30 points.
Already an established scorer, Eanes has remained one – she’s averaging a team-best 15.6 points per game – but her importance to the Chargers has grown as she’s taken some of the ball-handling responsibilities.
“Last year I played the 3-guard, the wing, and this year I had to step up and play the point guard,” Eanes said. “I’m very happy with the rest of the girls for stepping up and helping out. Our wins have been team wins.”
Snipes is second on the team in scoring with 9.6 points per game, and Vernon labeled her as Northwood’s “best outside shooter.”
While the injuries might have weakened Northwood’s ultimate potential as a team, Eanes said she and her teammates now play with greater motivation.
“The team goes out here, and we play every game for them because we know that it could have been any of us in that position.”