Bryant is close to returning to Mount Hebron lineup Nearly recovered from knee surgery

January 26, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Since she injured her knee six months ago in a pickup basketball game, Kris Bryant has endured the pain of surgery, the grind of physical therapy and the anxiety of watching her Mount Hebron teammates practice and play without her.

Yesterday, Bryant caught her first glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. Following an examination of her knee, Bryant learned she could take part in full practices with the Vikings. And if she doesn't suffer a setback, she will play her first minutes of the season in about four weeks -- just in time for the Class 2A regional playoffs.

"I'm pretty happy about it. I can do five-on-fives in practice, and if everything goes all right, he [Bryant's doctor] says he'll turn me loose," said Bryant, Hebron's 6-foot senior forward who is The Baltimore Sun's reigning All-Met Player of the Year. Bryant has been participating in non-contact drills at Hebron's practices for two weeks.

"Right after the surgery, I looked at my knee and thought I'd never beable to do anything again. I remember crying when I was trying to do one leg lift," Bryant said. "I'm kind of disappointed that he [her doctor] said I can't play in any games yet. But he promised me I could play in my last home game."

Bryant turned a few heads Friday night before the Vikings grabbed the attention by blowing out Howard, 64-25, to take over first place in the county standings and give coach Dave Greenberg his 299th career victory. Sporting a knee brace, Bryant appeared in uniform for the first time with the Vikings during pre-game shooting. Although she favored the injured knee noticeably, she said she felt no pain.

Late in the fourth quarter, when the Vikings' second team was on the floor, Hebron's starters began chanting, "We want Kris!"

"Mr. Greenberg ignored them. I was begging him to put me in for just 20 seconds," Bryant said. "I never feel any pain. The brace doesn't bother me at all. A lot of it is mental. Stepping in on defense when someone is coming at you, I don't know if I'm ready to do that."

After a sophomore season in which she was a part-time player, Bryant emerged last year as a dominant force inside. She averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Vikings to a 23-2 record and their 12th county championship in 14 years.

Bryant has already signed a letter of intent to attend Mount St. Mary's on a full basketball scholarship. Greenberg thought her pre-game presence on the floor Friday night gave the Vikings an emotional lift. While delighted with the prospect of playing Bryant, he is cautious regarding how much she can be expected to contribute.

"There's no doubt that she would make us a better team, but I'd like her to be able to contribute without hurting herself, for her sake," Greenberg said. "We'd rather err on the side of caution."

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