NEW PALESTINE — Sitting in the stands watching her daughter play in the Hancock County Middle School Basketball Tournament, Peggy Hockett knew the injury was gruesome.
“I’ve never seen a thumb look like that,” Hockett said.
Her daughter, Doe Creek Middle School eighth-grader Josie Hockett, was battling for a loose ball with another player when it happened. The basketball went back and so did her thumb in a game against Greenfield-Central on Feb. 27.
Hockett left the game momentarily, got her thumb popped back into place and taped, then she continued playing, including in the championship final against Mt. Vernon.
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“I still played because I would have felt really bad if I didn’t play and let my teammates down,” said Hockett.
Doe Creek coach Sarah Gizzi said the heart and passion exhibited by Hockett rubbed off on her teammates, as they avenged earlier season losses to both Greenfield and Mt. Vernon en route to earning the title.
“We thought we had a chance to win, but we knew we would have to have two really good games,” Gizzi said. “When Josie got hurt towards the end of the Greenfield game, I thought it would be nearly impossible to win the tournament without her.
“She is our most experienced post player and is a terrific defender and a steady presence for our team. She plays the whole game, unless she is in foul trouble.”
Gizzi, whose team is 12-6 with one game against Mt. Vernon remaining, admits she was unsure her standout player would be able to suit up in the final.
“I didn’t think for a second that she would try to play in the championship game against Mt. Vernon. She said she wanted to try, and so did her mom. She ended up having a fantastic game — not many points scored, but tremendous defense, effort and heart,” Gizzi said. “She was in pain every time she caught or rebounded the ball. I don’t keep stats, but she was awesome.”
When the excitement subsided, Hockett’s parents took her to an orthopedic doctor who confirmed the worst — the thumb was broken and her season was officially over.
“The season was going pretty good, so far. It has been pretty hard to watch. I am used to playing, and it’s been hard to watch them play,” Hockett said.
Hockett’s mother said she hopes her daughter learns that anything, including basketball, can disappear in the blink of an eye.
“God’s got a plan, and I hope it makes her passion for basketball grow and she continues to love it,” Peggy Hockett said. “At age 14, it is a good lesson to learn that anything, including basketball, can be taken away at any time.
“She plays AAU and that season is about to start, so it has been tough for her. We take her back in two weeks so they can decide what to do with the cast.”