Bishop Feehan deals with loss of Lepley
While the Bishop Feehan girls' basketball team celebrated its 64-43 victory at Bishop Stang Friday, the Shamrocks' star captain, Amy Lepley, rested at home.
The senior guard had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ACL in her left knee, an injury she suffered in Bishop Feehan's second game of the season, along with a fractured femur. In the first quarter against Attleboro, Lepley's knee gave out on a routine layup.
"It was devastating," said Lepley of her season-ending injury. "It was the worst thing I've ever been through in my entire life."
Lepley's been injured before - she broke her wrist her freshman year, keeping her out for half a season. But senior year is different. The injury robbed Lepley of her last chance to play with her teammates and scoring her 1,000th point - the count stalled at 920. And even though Lepley had already secured a basketball scholarship to Holy Cross, the guard who averaged 22.1 points last season still misses the adrenaline rush of stepping on the court. She said it will take six months of physical therapy and at-home exercises to fully recover.
"I can't wait to play again," she said. "It definitely shows that I can't take one game, one practice for granted anymore, because you never know when it's going to be over."
But when the captain went down, senior forward Jenna Roncarati stepped up.
"At first we were more concerned about her and making sure she was OK," Roncarati said of Lepley, a close friend. "I don't think we were ever like, 'We're out of this.' We have a strong team and she was a big factor of the team, but we felt if everyone stepped up just a little bit, we could make up for it."
Since the injury, No. 7 Bishop Feehan (12-3) has amped up its defense to compensate and teammates have adapted to new roles. Roncarati, once known more for her defensive presence, is now averaging about 20 points a game. And Lepley is handing out tips and cheering on her team from the sidelines.
"We still look to her, she's still our team captain," Roncarati said. "She's always giving advice, almost like another assistant coach."
"I'd love to coach someday," Lepley said. "I definitely see things in a different light than when I'm on the floor."
No one is prouder of the Shamrocks than Lepley, who was surprised to hear that Roncarati, despite her recent success, doesn't view herself as an offensive threat.
"Jenna's amazing," Lepley said. "I try to help Jenna out a lot. I tell her to just take it to the hoop a lot of the time. Each game they're getting better. There are things that they need to work on, but I think they can go as far as they want to go. They just need to work together as a team."
Roncarati appreciates the advice. She said she knows it's been hard for Lepley to sit back and watch her senior year but also knows she won't be forgotten.
"I know that anyone that's watched her play these past three years will remember her, regardless of if she got her 1,000 points or not," she said.
Thursday - No. 19 Walpole (12-2) at No. 1 Wellesley (16-0). Walpole might have the best chance of handing Wellesley its first loss.
Friday - No. 12 Stoneham (16-2) at No. 2 Reading (15-1), and No. 15 Durfee(10-3) at New Bedford. If New Bedford can muster two big league wins this week, the Whalers could climb back into the Top 20.