The Forest Park Lady Panthers may have to make another run toward a state title without their star point guard Kayla Potts after she sustained a knee injury this summer. (File Photo)
FOREST PARK — At the end of the last basketball season, Forest Park was heartbroken but hopeful.
The blow dealt by a narrow loss to eventual state champion Southwest DeKalb in the Class AAAAA semifinals was absorbed by the fact that the Lady Panthers returned virtually everyone back for this season.
And then, right when summer ball action was getting started in June, deja-vu happened for arguably one of the team’s top players.
Kayla Potts, who rebounded from a torn ACL injury that sidelined her for the entire 2011-12 season to average 12.9 points, four steals and three assists per game — despite missing the first 14 games of the season — went down once more.
This time it was the left knee. And, unlike the first injury, Potts tore her lateral meniscus this time. A little bit of a different recovery strategy, but a similar result.
It appears Potts could miss this season.
And while such bad fortune could be enough to make some players feel distraught, Potts said she’s able to keep a fairly positive outlook on her current condition.
“I mean, with an injury like that, anyone would be devastated,” Potts said. “Not being able to play, it’s tough to deal with, but since I’ve been through this before and came back, I feel like I can come back from this also.”
Not only has Potts been here before, but so have the Lady Panthers. Over the last two seasons, coach Steven Cole’s team has been constantly bitten by the injury bug — particularly knee injuries, not unlike the kind Potts has now twice suffered.
In 2011-12, the Panthers advanced deep into the state tournament despite losing center Lisa Pease and Tiffany Wilson to knee injuries, along with Potts.
Cole said the issues are not for lack of his staff trying to make sure the girls are in shape.
“Its’s hard to explain,” Cole said. “We’re doing everything we can to train them and strengthen the muscles around the knee. It’s just one of those things that happens. Someone else is going to have to step up for us now.”
And Potts doesn’t believe that will be an issue. She said her teammates have more than enough firepower to pick up where they left off last season.
“Oh, I’m very confident in my teammates,” Potts said. “Very confident. I will still have support and give as much advice as possible for them. And the younger girls coming on the team, I want them to know that we can still do this. This is a team sport.”
Potts said the lateral meniscus tear brings a bit of an added dimension to the recovery process. She said she had to allow the scar tissue to heal before she was able to straighten the leg out completely and begin rehabilitation in earnest.
And even though the prognosis is doubtful for her to see extensive action this season, Potts is resolute to be able to be there for her team — and that for more than moral support.
“I’m still holding out to be able to play,” Potts said.