Cougars court star finds in­jury had a sil­ver lin­ing

Regina Leader-Post - - SPORTS - MUR­RAY MCCORMICK mm­c­[email protected]­ twit­­raylp

The bag of ice on Ma­caela Crone’s left knee is a cold re­minder of her 2016-17 high school bas­ket­ball sea­son.

Just three games into her Grade 12 year with the Moose Jaw Pea­cock Toil­ers, Crone tore the an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in her left knee.

Now a sec­ond-year for­ward/ guard with the Univer­sity of Regina Cougars, she has learned to ap­pre­ci­ate an­other side to the in­jury.

“It was a very dev­as­tat­ing mo­ment in my ca­reer,” Crone said af­ter Fri­day’s 86-53 win over the vis­it­ing UBC Okana­gan Heat, adding that “it was some­thing that has helped me to be the per­son and team­mate that I am to­day.

“It’s weird ... you think you don’t want an ACL tear, but I’m very happy that it oc­curred. It has made me a way stronger per­son.”

Crone al­ready had earned an NCAA schol­ar­ship to Louisiana Tech Univer­sity be­fore the in­jury. She caught the Lady Tech­sters’ at­ten­tion while av­er­ag­ing 7.6 points per game in Canada’s gold-medal per­for­mance at the 2015 FIBA Amer­ica’s un­der-16 cham­pi­onship in Mex­ico.

She played just three games with Louisiana Tech be­fore re­turn­ing home to Moose Jaw. Crone spent last win­ter de­cid­ing where she wanted to con­tinue her stud­ies and play bas­ket­ball.

“I thought (the Cougars) were a re­ally good fit, with head coach Dave Tay­lor and the team that I was around,” said Crone, who is study­ing busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“My sis­ter (Kehlsie) used to play here. Be­ing from Moose Jaw, I can go home on the week­ends if we have a bye.

“Even on a Thurs­day night, I can go home for a home-cooked meal. Fam­ily is what re­ally mat­ters to me.”

Ma­caela wears No. 8, the same num­ber Kehlsie wore dur­ing her four stel­lar sea­sons with the Cougars.

“It’s our fam­ily num­ber,” Ma­caela said.

Kehlsie be­gan her post-sec­ondary ca­reer at We­ber State in Utah but elected to leave the school in 2010 af­ter just one sea­son. Tay­lor had re­cruited Kehlsie be­fore she headed to We­ber State and she opted to join the Cougars in 2011.

Ma­caela fol­lowed a sim­i­lar route, join­ing the Cougars af­ter one se­mes­ter at Louisiana Tech.

“At the time, Louisiana Tech was the best op­por­tu­nity that I had to play Divi­sion I in the United States,” Ma­caela said.

“Ob­vi­ously, I came home and that’s what mat­ters. Did I want to do the same thing as Kehlsie? That wasn’t the plan, but I’m very happy where I am.”

So is Tay­lor.

“(Ma­caela) is a skilled player,” Tay­lor said.

“She’s six-foot-two and she can shoot the ball. I don’t think she un­der­stands how good she can be and she would be the first to say that she has to have a con­sis­tent com­pete level. When she plays hard, she’s a tough matchup.”

Crone has started 13 Canada West games this sea­son, av­er­ag­ing 10.4 points and 7.1 re­bounds while hit­ting 41.7 per cent of her three­p­oint at­tempts.

She cred­its her par­ents (Vaughn and Tam­mie) for her ver­sa­til­ity.

“My dad made sure since I was a lit­tle girl that I wasn’t a one-po­si­tion player and that I could play the whole floor,” Crone said.

“My mom would come in the gym and re­bound for me when no one else could.

“My par­ents played a big role in where I am to­day.”

The Cougars clinched a play­off berth for the 24th con­sec­u­tive sea­son by beat­ing the Heat 82-43 on Satur­day.

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