For Liberty's Gursky, remarkable comeback

January 31, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

They used only two words to describe Josh Gursky at Shock Trauma in December.

"Miracle Boy" were the words written on Gursky's report the day the Liberty High basketball star walked away from what appeared to be a serious neck injury and possible paralysis.

"It's a miracle that he's walking, much less playing basketball," said his mother, Evelyn. "Josh had absolutely no feeling in his arms and legs for a while, and his face was paralyzed when he first came home. But it turned out to be nothing more than bad whiplash."

The Gursky family witnessed the scary fall Josh took Dec. 22 during a basketball game against Centennial at Liberty High.

His father, Grant, and mother were there along with his older brother, Grant, younger brother, Geoff, and younger sister, Katie, when Josh fell to the floor and was tended to for 45 minutes before being flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Making matters worse for the Gurskys was that Grant was not allowed to work on his brother even though he is an emergency medical technician.

In those terrifying minutes, the Gurskys were wondering if their vibrant son and brother with the ever-present smile on his face would ever be the same again.

"Josh is the sunshine of our life," said his mother. "He is always smiling and loves life."

And everybody loves Josh Gursky back.

"I seem to get along with everyone," he said. "I don't have any enemies. I don't criticize people."

Liberty coach Scott Kohr said the 6-foot-2 junior is "a delight to coach. He comes to play with a lot of desire and enthusiasm. He just goes out and follows instructions."

The frightening fall came just five days after Josh Gursky started his first varsity game and scored 28 points in a 67-60 victory over Hammond.

Gursky, who uses a lot of deceptive moves to get open inside for Liberty, put one of those moves on Centennial's Brian Hulka, who wound up banging into Gursky's forehead.

Gursky's head snapped back and he fell down hard on the floor.

"I really was scared," said Gursky. "I didn't really know what was going on. I remember the doctors at Shock Trauma saying I would be in the hospital for a long time."

However, he missed only four games and returned Jan. 15 for a road game against Central Maryland Conference power Thomas Johnson.

In just his fourth game back Wednesday night, Gursky scored 21 in an 86-74 loss to Linganore. He raised his average to 12 points to go along with five rebounds a game.

"I would say I'm 98 percent back to normal," he said. "It's almost as if I wasn't really hurt."

The people at Shock Trauma aren't the only ones who have been fooled by Gursky this season.

Almost every center Gursky goes up against this season takes one look at his spindly frame and starts thinking it will be an easy night.

"They all say, 'He's not going to be any problem because he's so short,' " said Gursky, who looks more like he's 5 feet 11 or 6-0 than 6-2. "Linganore's big guy is 6-4 and he said a couple of times after I scored 'Not again.' "

Gursky is amazingly deceptive around the basket, almost always finding a way to knife through defenders for an open shot. He has no fear of anyone.

"Part of his mystique is that he doesn't look like he can do all the things he can do," said Kohr. "He's not overly quick or strong but more than makes up for it with hard work."

Gursky said a change in mental attitude in the game before he scored 28 points has a lot to do with his success this season.

"I decided I had nothing to lose by playing my game inside," he said. "My freshman coach [Terry Kilpatrick] at Wheaton High in Montgomery County taught me to be physical inside. I was there before I transferred to Liberty."

Gursky has come on so strongly this season that Kohr now is pleading with his 4-11 team to get the ball inside more often to Gursky.

"We need to develop more dimensions to our offense," said Kohr. "Josh gives us some of those dimensions when he has the ball."

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