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Isabella Namaksy could’ve drifted into sorrow, missing out on her junior basketball season due to a Grade 2 PCL tear in her right knee but she didn’t. Instead, the now-Conifer senior learned more …
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Isabella Namaksy could’ve drifted into sorrow, missing out on her junior basketball season due to a Grade 2 PCL tear in her right knee but she didn’t. Instead, the now-Conifer senior learned more about the game than she ever had by watching and observing.
“It’s not very often you get a season where you can sit and watch every day,” she said. “(My) game improved. I wasn’t able to run, work on my shot or some of my weaknesses, but, overall, I’m a better player even though I didn’t get to play.”
The kind of player that first-year Conifer girls basketball coach Pete Campbell hopes to rely on in 2021.
“She’s going to provide experience and command respect within the program,” Campbell said.
Namaksy was just starting to find a rhythm on the floor, averaging 17-plus minutes, including 21 minutes each against Bennett and Prairie View before the injury on Dec. 13, 2019, vs. Eagle Valley.
Namaksy scored a season-high 10 points versus SkyView Academy just seven days earlier. This was after averaging 5.4 points per game as a sophomore, including a career-high 17 points against Riverdale Ridge on Jan. 29, 2019.
She played in all 24 games as a sophomore but was limited to just five games a season ago. That, however, is what makes playing in 2021 so vital for Namaksy.
“I’m just really excited to play one last time, and finish off my high school basketball career,” she said.
Physically, Namaksy’s recovery hasn’t been a smooth one. For every two steps forward that she’s taken, Namaksy says, it’s been one step back. Slowly, she’s regaining her agility while attending physical therapy twice a week. But, in due time, she’ll be making cuts on the hardwood like she was before the injury.
Campbell is already seeing that, but he’s mindful that while winning is important — after all Conifer hasn’t had an above .500 season since going 16-8 in 2012-13 — he won’t let that factor in his decision to keep Namaksy healthy.
“I’m going to be looking out for her. If she can’t go at 100 percent, 90 to 100 percent, maybe we’ll limit her time,” Campbell said. “My expectations though is that she’s ready to. I’ve seen her on the track and in workouts and she’s getting better every time. … As long as she’s 100%, she’ll have that opportunity to go.”
And she’ll have that opportunity as the floor general, playing point guard for the Lobos.
Campbell knows that the 5-foot-6-inch Namaksy isn’t your prototypical point guard. There’s still work to be done with ball-handling and not a whole lot of time to establish that skill set in a shortened season starting Jan. 26 at Pomona, but with extended film study and guidance, the goal will be to make her feel as comfortable as possible to lead the Lobos’ offensive attack.
“I’m excited to work on it. I haven’t really played the position before,” said Namaksy, who recognized the need for players like her to step up and replace the Lobos’ top three scorers from a season ago — captains Jordyn West, Sierra Hayes and Carly Scheck. West has been Conifer’s point guard the past four seasons.
Then there’s Namaksy’s shooting. Sure, she might be switching to point guard this season, but Campbell said, from the film he’s studied, her shot setup is an attribute he hopes to utilize, especially when she’s playing off the ball.
Namaksy made it a point, even with the injury, to improve her game any way she could. This included form shooting, just standing in position and taking shots, before transitioning to jumpers and off-movement shots.
“She has the best basketball IQ on the team right now. She knows how to move off the ball and get herself open,” Campbell said. “That’s a good thing for me. … When she’s set to go, it’s a great shot. Like a marksman. Even her misses are in a small window.”
Be it playing the point or setting up her shot, Isabella Namaksy is ready to return to the hardwood one final time for the Conifer Lobos in 2021.
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