LCA wins opener, loses Graves to injury


XENIA — A seemingly perfect start to the season Monday was momentarily derailed by a shock to the system in the game’s opening minutes.

Legacy Christian won 57-16 against Franklin Monroe, but not before losing Alli Graves to injury.

Just 2:24 after the opening tip, a scramble near midcourt saw Graves, the returning player of the year in the Metro Buckeye Conference, go down and was unable to get up without assistance after laying on the court for several minutes.

She was unable to put any pressure on her ankle and after being carried to the trainer’s room by teammates, head coach Mark Combs called a timeout and asked his team to take a seat together on the bench.

“Alli is such a huge part of our team,” he said. “In the moment it happens, I just shared with my kids something that I tell them all the time which is that basketball is not life, but it does mirror it sometimes.

“Sometimes it looks like it though and you’ve got to handle adversity. She didn’t wake up this morning thinking she was going to get hurt, so now it’s about how you guys respond and how she does too and those are life type things that basketball can help you understand.”

The response could not have gone better with LCA picking up where it had left off.

Already having taken a 7-0 lead at the time of the injury, the Knights didn’t allow a shot attempt until near the quarter’s midway point and its full court pressure continued on to hold the Jets to a single point in the first quarter.

A barrage of three-pointers, including three by Alayna Allport who led all scorers with 11 points, helped the Knights build a 34-9 lead after halftime.

“We’re asking our kids to play fast and we’re really trying to up tempo everything,” Combs said. “With that you’re setting yourself up for mistakes but I thought our body language was pretty good.”

Ava Combs, a freshman, stepped into Graves’ role at the point and ended the game with six points and several solid defensive plays at the head of the press.

“That’s not an easy role when you’re throwing her the ball as a freshman and telling her to go play like the player of the year,” Combs said.

The Knights, coming off a district final appearance last season, didn’t receive the same type of challenge against the Jets as it did last season when they were on the losing end of a game taking place at Franklin Monroe.

No one could have expected an injury to occur before the season truly got into motion, but Graves’ teammates maintained composure and quickly adjusted to the situation.

“Losing someone none of us thought we were going to lose and still perform at the level we want to in the midst of shock for our kids is nice,” Combs said. “I don’t know how hurt [Graves] is, I’m hoping it’s just a couple of weeks. But either way, sitting our kids down and going there’s a reason I talk about life all the time. Basketball and sports don’t last forever and life will kick you around sometimes.

“We just got kind of a gut punch tonight, so we’ve got to take it and then get back up.”

Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.

No posts to display