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PREP GIRLS HOOPS PREVIEW: Injuries derail seasons of two local hoops stars

Marysville Pilchuck's Becca Lentz and Lynnwood's Mokun Fajemisin both tore ACLs over the offseason

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  • Marysville Pilchuck forward Rebecca Lentz plays against Edmonds-Woodway in a game last season. Lentz tore her anterior cruciate ligament this past fal...

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Marysville Pilchuck forward Rebecca Lentz plays against Edmonds-Woodway in a game last season. Lentz tore her anterior cruciate ligament this past fall and is out for the season.

  • Lynnwood's Mokun Fajemisin will miss the 2011-12 season after tearing her ACL over the offseason.

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Lynnwood's Mokun Fajemisin will miss the 2011-12 season after tearing her ACL over the offseason.

  • Arsenia Ivanov listens to Royals head coach Everett Edwards during a recent practice at Lynnwood H.S. Ivanov will be called upon to step up in the abs...

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Arsenia Ivanov listens to Royals head coach Everett Edwards during a recent practice at Lynnwood H.S. Ivanov will be called upon to step up in the absence of Mokun Fajemisin.

  • Jasmin Edwards looks on during a recent Lynnwood basketball practice. After a strong freshman season, Edwards will be asked to do more in 2011-12.

    Michael O'Leary / The Herald

    Jasmin Edwards looks on during a recent Lynnwood basketball practice. After a strong freshman season, Edwards will be asked to do more in 2011-12.

There seems to be an epidemic attacking players before the upcoming 2011-2012 girls basketball season even starts: torn anterior cruciate ligaments.
At least two bona fide stars from last season find themselves watching their teams from the sidelines this year after tearing ACLs: Marysville-Pilchuck's Becca Lentz and Lynnwood's Mokun Fajemisin. Both are seniors that will miss their final high school seasons because of their injuries.
"There's been ACL tears happening everywhere," said Tomahawks head coach Julie Martin. "The ACL Club is what we call it, and nobody wants to be a member."
Lentz joined the "Club" during the middle of the fall soccer season. She got tangled up with another player who fell on her leg. Immediately, she knew something was wrong.
"I knew as soon as it happened, right away as soon as I heard it pop," Lentz, a 2010 All-State Girls Soccer Second Team selection, said.
Her first concern was for her scholarship to play soccer at Gonzaga University. Once coaches assured her that they were "with (her) for the long run," Lentz was able to focus on working toward a full recovery. Now she finds herself on the basketball court, doing whatever she can to help her team get back to the state tournament.
"She's there every single day," Tomahawks head coach Julie Martin said. "She's a captain of our team and a leader. It's nice having her around."
Lentz praised Martin for the support she's given her. In fact, her coach had a similar situation when she was a senior in high school. Going into the state tournament, Martin tore her ACL.
When she got to college, Martin wrote a research paper about ACL tears in women's athletics. She concluded that female bodies are just built differently and in a way that, for some reason, makes them more susceptible to ACL tears.
"What's really nice is Julie is there for me whenever I need her," said Lentz. "She understands everything I'm going through right now. It's so nice because she is an amazing coach, especially when it comes to this type of stuff. I feel like I can go to her for anything."
While Martin admits it's going to be hard to replace Lentz on the floor she has a pair of sophomores who she thinks might be able to help: Amanda Klep and Jenika Anglim. Klep is another soccer player who has torn her ACL twice.
The younger players bolster a squad with five seniors -- three returning from last year's team that reached the state tournament. However, this season, one of them will be on the sideline.
"I enjoy being there, but it is very hard to sit still and not just want to go out there and play," Lentz said. "I just know that I'll never be able to play in a basketball game again, and it's really hard for me to be at a practice and realize that."
However, she's not letting her injury keep her from helping her team, and cheering them on during the season.
"I love my team," Lentz said. "I feel like we have a very strong connection this year. I feel like we're going to have a very good year.
"I'm really looking forward to this next year and being able to cheer on my team."
Martin, meanwhile, appreciates Lentz's help. She's thankful that she's sticking around and hopes that she is the last injury MP faces this season. Last year her point guard, Andi Adams got hurt right before the state tournament. Her injury: a torn ACL.
The ACL Club picked up another involuntary member in summer when the Royals' Fajemisin tore her ACL during an AAU game in August.
Last season Fajemisin was a member of The Herald's 4A/3A All-Area First Team. She signed with the University of California – Irvine to play basketball in college. Her high school career ended, however, after last year's 3A state tournament appearance.
When Lynnwood head coach Everett Edwards first heard the news, he held out a little hope that his star post player may be healed in time for the playoffs.
"Initially when I got the phone call, we had heard it might be her meniscus, I was kind of like, 'Hey there's still hope,'" Edwards said. "Maybe with some rehab and everything else she could come back and play in the second half of the season."
But it turned out her ACL had snapped, and her Royals career was done.
Lynnwood has been one of the risers in Wesco the past couple years, qualifying for the state tournament in 2010 and 2011, and sharing the Wesco 3A league title last season with Shorecrest. Edwards expects that success to continue, even with the loss of Fajemisin.
"It's been a great run. The last two years for us," Edwards said. "We probably would've been a top-10 team in preseason rankings (with Fajemisin). I think we're still going to compete to go to the state tournament."
Edwards has an infusion of youth to go along with his two seniors. Casey Evans and Meghan Cross have both been four-year starters for the Royals, and the Lynnwood coach is relying on them to help the younger players along this season.
A couple of juniors, Arsenia Ivanov and Linda Wilson, should also help Lynnwood compete. Edwards calls Ivanov a great shooter and says she's "definitely one of the leaders of our team." Wilson can help in an area that Fajemisin specialized in the last three years.
"She's a dominant rebounder, and a very good defensive player," Edwards said.
Throw in sophomores Jasmin Edwards who was a Second Team All-Wesco selection as a freshman last year and Grace Douglas -- who got minutes on varsity as a freshman -- and the Royals once again look like a threat in Wesco 3A.
"We have youth and young talent in our program," Edwards said, "and hopefully we can develop that and play good basketball for the next couple years."
A key to the Royals, Tomahawks and other local teams' success this season will be having as few members of the ACL Club as possible.

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