After Lexington Christian Academy's girls beat archrival Lexington Catholic 70-55 Thursday night, Eagles junior Kristen Jacob had to feel as if her basketball world was finally back on its axis again.
Last January in a home victory over Lexington Catholic, Jacob suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that ended her season.
Jacob had knee surgery in early February, then began the long grind of rehabilitation. She returned to the court this fall, determined to get back to the double-double level she performed at as a sophomore.
Thursday's game told the story of her successful comeback. Jacob had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and most important, she seemed to play with uninhibited aggressiveness.
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How did it feel to be back on the same court, 11 months later, playing and beating Lexington Catholic again?
"Amazing," she said. "It was great. My adrenaline was rushing and I felt better than ever.
"It killed me last season to watch my team play without me. I was happy for them, but I wanted so bad to be out there again."
Coach Jason Seamands said "it had to be weird" for Jacob to face the Knights again on the same floor where she was injured last season.
"They say the mental part of coming back is the toughest sometimes, but she seems to be handling it great," he said. "It's to her credit that she pushed real hard in rehab. She looks as quick and strong as ever."
Jacob's determination has carried over to her teammates. LCA, unrated in the pre-season after graduating Miss Basketball Sarah Beth Barnette, is off to a 4-0 start after beating No. 22 Lexington Catholic.
Kelli Mitchuson provided a spark. The 5-5 sophomore point guard had 15 points and nine of the Eagles' 21 assists.
Kellie Rhinehart, a 5-11 senior, had 13 points and nine rebounds. Katelin Bundy added 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. Rachel Cox stuffed her stat line with six points, five assists and seven steals.
LCA's defense held Lexington Catholic to 33 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers.
The Eagles led 40-33 at halftime, then quickly stretched the margin to 49-33. Lexington Catholic never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
Alex Botkin's 15 points and 12 rebounds led the Knights.
Sarah Cawood had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Octavia Wilson added 11 points and seven boards.
First-year coach Chelsea Chowning had been pleased with her team's effort in its first three games, but not against LCA.
"We took a step back tonight," she said. "We didn't come ready to play.
"Shots not going in is one thing. I can deal with that. But being outhustled and outplayed from the tip to the end is disappointing."
Lexington Catholic (1-3) — Botkin 6-12 3-5 15, Johns 2-8 0-0 4, Walton 0-6 0-0 0, Rhule 0-1 0-1 0, Wilson 3-14 5-9 11, Cawood 5-10 0-0 13, Blake 3-4 1-1 7, Shaw 1-6 2-3 5. Totals 20-61 11-19 55.
Lexington Christian (4-0) — Jacob 4-7 6-10 14, Rhinehart 5-10 3-8 13, Bundy 5-19 0-0 13, Cox 2-6 0-1 6, Mitchuson 4-12 5-6 15, Evans 3-6 0-0 6, Eastham 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 24-61 15-27 70.
Lexington Catholic 15 18 12 10—55
Lexington Christian 17 23 14 16—70