This is just wrong. Wrong in every sense of the word.
Worse than a blown call at the end of a close game, worse than a 95 percent foul shooter missing the front end of a bonus trying to salt away a victory.
Just wrong, wrong, wrong.
Whitefish Bay senior center/guard Maya Jonas was doing a victory lap this season, leading a young basketball team to great success.
She was playing freely and with great energy and was a joy to watch whenever she stepped on the court. She had her scholarship to Northwestern sewn up and was going to take the Blue Dukes as far as they could in a challenging WIAA Division 2 sectional playoff bracket.
That was going to be the story until Feb. 25, when while in a 50-34 nonconference loss to a strong Kettle Moraine squad, her knee went out, her ACL tore. It was same knee that was injured two years ago in spring for which Jonas underwent surgery, endured months of rehab and essentially lost half of her junior season.
Furthermore, when she did return for the second half of her junior season, she had to wear this gigantic, clunky brace which stripped her of much of her speed, energy and abandon, all keys to her game.
But this year, the brace was gone, the speed, energy and abandon were all back and she was having an All-State caliber season having passed the 1,000-point barrier for her career. She was, in effect, the greatest 6-2 combination center/backup point guard in the state, frequently going coast-to-coast after grabbing a rebound.
Even given the injury, it would be criminal if she weren't named All-State when those lists are released in the coming weeks.
Coach Dave Markson and the Blue Dukes are understandably devastated.
"As you can imagine, it's been a tough week for us, and Maya is doing the best she can," said Markson in an e-mail he sent Monday night. He added that Northwestern remains excited about her future as a Wildcat in the coming years.
Even with Jonas in the lineup, it had been a rough last few weeks for the Blue Dukes (16-6 overall) with three losses in their last four games. Following Jonas' injury, Bay closed out its season with a 46-40 loss to North Shore rival Homestead on Friday (see Sports Shorts for details).
Before that, however, there was a remarkable run, Jonas was one of only two seniors on the team and had led them to a 14-game winning streak and a state ranking earlier this season. Markson believes she led the North Shore Conference in scoring, rebounding, blocks and assists and he was sure she was near the top of the list in steals.
It's a foregone conclusion that she will be named conference player of the year.
And she did this all with an exceptional attitude.
"She had two games over 20 points and 20 rebounds," Markson said. "She just missed a triple double twice, and was near a quadruple double in another game. Best of all she is a very high level student and an exceptionally humble person."
Treatment for the injury is pending. Here's to a speedy and long-lasting recovery.
Jonas will remain with the team in spirit as the Blue Dukes enter WIAA tournament play this weekend. They host the winner of Milwaukee Samuel Morse/Juneau and Messmer in a D2 regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday and if they win, they will likely host area rival and Woodland Conference East Division champion Shorewood in a regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Bay beat Shorewood over the holiday break but a rematch without Jonas will no doubt be much more difficult.
Markson, who has been a steady, quiet force for the Blue Dukes this winter coaching on an interim basis, will try to make the best of a bad situation. He will try to rally his team around its fallen leader and make sure his players give their absolute best this weekend, no matter what the outcome.
With any luck, the Blue Dukes will play with the energy, freedom and abandon Jonas showed all season.
It's no doubt what she would want.
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