Injury leaves Edgewood's Santana off her usual pace

January 03, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

After leading Harford County in scoring last year, Edgewood guard Monica Santana expected to do the same in her senior season.

But in an Amateur Athletic Union 18-and-under state championship game last summer, her plans changed. After an on-court collision, she suffered a serious knee injury, tearing her anterior cruciate ligament.

Santana remembered running a one-on-one break when her opponent stepped in on her.

"Her knee just ran into mine and my knee totally popped out," said Santana, 17.

She was advised to have surgery immediately to repair the tear, but it would have meant sitting out her senior year in basketball. She opted to wait.

With the support of her parents, she will delay surgery until the season is over.

"If I had surgery, it would take me a year to recover, because they would have to reconstruct my whole knee," Santana said.

"Since I'm hoping for a scholarship, I didn't want to miss my senior year." The injury hasn't stopped her, but it has slowed her down.

As the Rams' point guard, Santana relied on quick moves to beat the defense. She also scored many of her points last year on transition.

This year, she knows she can't make a lot of those quick moves, especially the lateral ones.

"The injury hurts me mentally as well as physically," said Santana. "It gives out on me and I just fall. I'm afraid to do a lot of things I used to.

"Every time I dribble down the court, I'm afraid I'm going to hurt it more."

Despite the frequent pain, limited movement and the fear of further injury, Santana is still a leader on the court for the Rams.

Gone are her hopes to lead the county in scoring again. Her 22-point average from a year ago is down to about 12, but Santana is adjusting to some new goals:

"At first, I was worried about my personal stats, about finishing No. 1 in the county again. Now I'm worried more about the team. I know I can't do what I did last year, but our team has a good chance to do well."

After finishing fourth of eight teams at the second annual Poly Invitational Tournament, the Rams have a 4-3 record. They fell, 62-20, to Central of Prince George's County in Wednesday's third-place game.

Santana finished with six points, two assists and two steals. Last year, her stats might have been three or four times that. But against the Falcons, the quickest team the Rams have seen, Santana's injury really hurt her.

"It hurts me a lot on defense," said Santana, whose mark drove past her for layups a few times, something that rarely happened when she was at full speed.

"When I was playing one-on-one, she would make these sharp moves and I would have to stay behind."

Another big change for Santana this year is being without her father, former Edgewood coach Eddie Santana. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Army late last summer and had to transfer back to his native Puerto Rico.

Instead of packing up his wife, Rosa, Monica, 9-year-old Jennifer and 7-year-old Vanessa, Eddie Santana left them behind while Monica finished her senior year at Edgewood.

This summer, the rest of the family will join him in Puerto Rico.

Monica, however, will return in the fall to attend college in the United States, as does her brother, Eric, a sophomore at Georgetown.

At the Poly Tournament, Eddie Santana, who joined his family for Christmas, watched Monica play for the first time this season. Ever the coach, he picked up right where he left off a year ago.

Instead of barking orders from the bench, however, he advised his daughter in Spanish from the top of the bleachers.

A year ago, Monica never would have believed she'd miss his constant coaching. Now, she admits she misses it.

"It's a lot harder now," she said, "because when he was the coach, he would scream at me and push me from the first minute on the court until when we would go home in the car. I don't get that now."

The Rams will face one of their biggest tests of the season Tuesday when they play host to North Harford at 4:45 p.m. The matchup should prove especially challenging for Santana.

"It know it's going to be a hard game, because they play very good defense," she said. "They put a box-and-one on me last year. That would put a lot of pressure on me now."

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