CONNERSVILLE — The energy driving the Greenfield-Central Cougars entering Tuesday night’s game against Connersville was zapped before the game could even get started.
With less than a minute burnt off the clock at the Spartan Bowl, Cougars’ senior Jessica Farrell darted through the back court, collected a steal and charged toward the basket on the other end.
Before she could attempt a layup, her body crumbled to the floor under the rim, followed by silence in the stands.
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Farrell, who returned this season from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2016-17 in her left knee, fears the same happened with her right. Farrell was assisted off the court and never returned to the game, but she was on crutches during and after the Cougars lost 40-35.
“They don’t know for sure, but it feels the same,” Farrell remarked on her injury. “My knee just gave out. It’s all a blur now.”
For her teammates, the rest of the game against Connersville (5-9) felt much the same.
Greenfield-Central fell behind 13-0 before regrouping to put together an 11-0 run in the first half to trail 21-20 by halftime.
But they weren’t completely focused and for good reason.
“My girls worked hard, but we really are a family and we’re more about kids than we are basketball, so my kids were hurting for her,” Greenfield-Central head coach Joshua Means said. “She loves basketball and the team, so everyone on the team loves her. They wanted to make her proud, but obviously, they were affected.”
Lydia McIntire, who started for the Cougars, gritted through the emotions and led the team with 11 points and six rebounds. Kate Real had nine points behind three 3-pointers while Grace Rosemeyer posted six points.
The Cougars (4-9) grabbed their first lead of the game 23-21 early in the third quarter as Rosemeyer buried a 3-pointer with 6:41 on the clock.
Hannah Farrell, Jessica’s sister, knocked down a pair of buckets to put Greenfield-Central ahead 27-24. The Cougars held onto the lead 31-29 after the third quarter, but they couldn’t carry their momentum into the fourth.
“We’re just running out of bodies. We’re banged up. Hannah is hurt, so she can only play two minutes a quarter, and Kate Real is banged up. We have freshmen and kids that never played varsity, getting a lot of minutes,” Means said. “I’m super proud of them. They played really hard.”
Connersville had three players in double-figures led by Lauren Thompson’s 12. Maddie Gregory and Marley Smith each had 11.
The Spartans outscored the Cougars 11-4 in the fourth quarter to pull ahead 37-33 behind back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and two free throws by Smith with 5 minutes left.
“It was emotional. It was emotional after the game. It was emotional at quarters,” Means said. “It was an emotional game.”
Jessica Farrell went down with her first ACL tear during the Cougars second game of the season in 2016-17. She spent six months recovering and rehabbing to make it back, which she did for her senior year.
“It’s beyond (frustration). Coming back and putting all that hard work in again, and here we are again,” Farrell said. “The feeling of letting my team down was definitely the biggest thing for me. Going in there and seeing them all crying was hard.”
The Cougars hope to make their teammate proud as the season moves on.
“You honor people you love through your actions, so I think that’s what we need to do. We need to honor Jess with our actions the rest of the season,” Means said. “I think through those actions we can honor her.”
The Cougars host Hamilton Heights on Saturday next at 1:30 p.m.