CV girls’ basketball star expected to miss next season due to knee injury.
By Brandon HENSLEY
Talk about tough breaks.
There’s a good chance members of the Lady Falcons basketball team are enjoying their summer less now that they are without star player Ella Stepanian, who injured her right knee and will most likely miss the 2012-13 season.
Stepanian was injured June 30 while playing for an Armenian club team. Playing defense, she was hit from the left side while her knees were planted. Her legs were twisted, and she fell to the ground. An MRI is set for today, and the feeling is she tore her anterior cruciate ligament.
“The doctor thinks it’s an ACL tear,” said Stepanian.
An ACL tear is the worst-case scenario for the standout junior guard, in which surgery would be required. Stepanian said the best cases would either be a severe sprain or a torn meniscus. If she gets surgery, she would be able strengthen the knee a couple of weeks before.
“They say you should strengthen you knee before surgery, so it helps recovery,” she said. Recovery time would be six to eight months.
Stepanian also suffered a slight fracture in her left arm when she was hit.
During Tuesday night’s summer league games at Burroughs High School, Stepanian was on one crutch and walking delicately. She did not have a cast on her arm.
“I just broke down. I started crying,” she said when she got the news it was most likely a tear. “My first thought was I’m not going to be able to play basketball the way I’d like to … I got depressed.”
Crescenta Valley teammate Tanisha Minassian is also on Stepanian’s club team. She was about to check into the game when she saw Stepanian go down. Minassian thought Stepanian was going to get back up.
“She’s one of our strongest players,” she said. “And then all of a sudden I was shocked. I was like, ‘Oh no, it can’t be anything serious.’”
Samira Seraji, a former Falcon who was at the game, sent a photo of Stepanian on the ground to CV Head Coach Jason Perez. Perez called her later on with support.
Now the concern is how to replace the team’s best scorer.
CV lost both games Tuesday to Saugus and La Cañada High School. Guards Minassian and Melanie Wilson, and forward/centers Cynthia Shahbendeh and Lindsey Heckmann will have to step up and provide a better offensive showing than they did this week. The Falcons scored 29 points the first game, and just 19 points the next.
“Mistake after mistake after mistake,” Perez said. “Today we didn’t run our offense very well in either game. We didn’t get the ball to our post players enough, and when we give it to them they’re able to score or get to the [free throw] line, but we didn’t do that enough.”
Minassian said it’s going to be a team effort to produce points, and that pressure doesn’t fall to just one player.
“It’s pretty tough out there. It’s a whole new game,” she said. “We’re used to relying on Ella. Now we have to communicate with each other and find the open person.”
For the rest of the summer, as well the games that will be played in the winter, Stepanian will have to sit and cheer her teammates from the bench.
“And no matter what,” she said, “I’m going to do it with a smile on my face.”