We're more than five months away from the start of the 2017-18 high school basketball season, but already, the York Catholic girls' team is facing a major issue.
Last Friday, star guard and rising senior Kate Bauhof suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during an AAU basketball game at Lancaster's Spooky Nook Sports, sidelining her for up to six months.
"Me and another girl on my team, we were trapping and I jumped up in the air," Bauhof said in a phone interview Tuesday. "It actually happened in mid-air. I jumped up and one of their teammates just hit the side of my knee perfectly and it just popped."
Bauhof plays for the Running Rebels AAU team out of Philadelphia.
She said that she was concerned something significant happened to her knee as soon as she heard the pop, but walked off the court on her own power to the bench. When she got there, the trainers originally told her that it could've just been a sprain. However, a little while later, Bauhof went to stand up to get her teammate's water bottle and her knee gave out, immediately signifying that something more than a sprain had occurred.
Bauhof went to OSS Health to get an MRI, where she was diagnosed with a torn ACL.
"The whole way to OSS, walking in, it kept giving out, felt so weak and sliding out of place," she said. "I feel like I almost knew before the doctor told me, but I just didn't want to believe it."
Bauhof will have surgery to repair the tear on Friday.
Speedy recovery: If there's one positive to the whole situation, it might be in the fact that, as Bauhof described it, the injury was an "isolated ACL tear," meaning only the ACL was affected and no other parts of her knee were damaged.
The doctor informed Bauhof that, because of the isolated tear, it would lead to her returning to as close to 100 percent as you can get when suffering a ligament tear and the recovery process should be relatively speedy. Also, because Bauhof is an athlete, surrounding muscles and ligaments are stronger and will help her in her recovery to full strength.
Even with the optimistic outlook, Bauhof isn't completely out of the woods. Through rehab and recovery, she's still expected to miss part of her senior season with the Fighting Irish, but knows she'll play at some point this upcoming winter.
"We're hoping for late January or early February," Bauhof said about her possible return.
A return somewhere in that time frame would get Bauhof back on the court for York Catholic right at the end of the regular season and in time for any postseason play the Fighting Irish have.
Crushing loss: The loss of Bauhof won't be easy to overcome for York Catholic, though.
Bauhof was the York-Adams League's leading scorer last year, putting up 19.5 points per game. She's scored more than 1,300 points in her Fighting Irish career and helped the team to the District 3 Class 3-A title and a PIAA Class 3-A semifinal berth last year. On top of that, Bauhof was a first-team all-state selection in 3-A as a junior and was a finalist for the Miss Pennsylvania Basketball state-wide award.
Bauhof said she was getting NCAA Division I interest from several mid-major programs and because of the timing of the injury, it could cost her some valuable college exposure. She'll miss a pair of major AAU tournaments this summer and will only have a handful of games in her senior season to shine for college coaches.
She did indicate that because of the injury, it could lead her to prolong her college decision, just so she has as much time to perform in front of college coaches as a senior.
"As it was, I didn't have a deadline because I was just waiting to see how things played out," Bauhof said. "But, now, I guess it does push it off 'till I can get back on the court."
Even though she won't be on the court for the first month or so of her senior season, Bauhof will still be with her team every step of the way.
She plans to be at every practice and game, acting as a coach for her teammates and also supporting the team until she can get back and contribute.
"I just think it's a small bump in the road," Bauhof said. "I don't think it's gonna change anything."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org