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Concussions take their toll on area teams

01/21/2013, 7:32pm CST
By Paul Johnson

In just the past few weeks, Oswego sophomore Siarra O’Neill and Aurora Central Catholic senior Lisa Rodriguez, have been among the area players affected by concussions.

Aurora Central's Lisa Rodriguez scores against Walter Lutheran on Friday, Dec. 21, 2012. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media

Concussions have become one of the sports world’s greatest concerns in recent years, and this year’s local girls basketball community has not been immune to it.

In just the past few weeks, two key players, Oswego sophomore Siarra O’Neill and Aurora Central Catholic senior Lisa Rodriguez, have been among the area players affected by concussions.

Rodriguez sat and watched as her team dropped four straight games after she suffered a nasty fall against East Aurora at the Oswego East Tournament. The injury resulted in stitches on her face in addition to the concussion before she returned in a win over Ellison last week. She tried to get out there against St. Edward on Jan. 12, but after briefly playing, she said she just didn’t feel right. Rodriguez was forthright in discussing her situation after the Ellison game.

“Just seeing the blood, I was just terrified,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been terrified ever since. I’ve just been trying to build up that courage and the mental strength to get back out there and do what I usually do. It’s hard, but I know it’s my senior year and I want to give it all I have because I won’t have this next year. I have to honor coach and honor the team and play as hard as I can.”

O’Neill missed a game before getting back in the fold by scoring 13 points in a 65-47 win over Plainfield North Friday for Oswego. With the increased scrutiny on concussions, and the fact that O’Neill suffered a concussion in a car accident last spring, Panthers coach Chad Pohlmann wasn’t taking any chances.

“She was sick to not be able to play, but that’s part of the protocol now and we have to make sure we take care of the kids,” Pohlmann said.

Metea just can’t catch a break — Metea Valley has been pointing to this season since the school opened with this senior class, and the Mustangs have not disappointed.

Metea is off to an 18-5 start, already establishing a school record for wins, but the injuries are starting to mount. Senior forward Anna Petersen tore her ACL a few weeks ago, and her luck has not gotten better. She was scheduled to go under the knife last week before she came down with strep throat, postponing the procedure.

Then in Saturday’s 64-50 loss to Morgan Park at the prestigious McDonald’s Shootout, point guard Bria Walker went down with a knee injury in the second half. She was slated for an MRI Monday.

Skaggs done for the season — Injuries were a story across the area last week as West Aurora’s team leader in scoring, rebounding and steals, Liz Skaggs, will miss the rest of the season with a broken hand suffered on Jan. 12 against Glenbard East.

“She doesn’t remember how she did it,” West coach Connie Siljendahl said. “The ball hit her finger and she came out and we taped it up and she went back in, which was probably not the best thing because the ball hit it again and it broke further down. She’s done (for the season).”

Milestone for Pohlmann — The Oswego win over Plainfield North Friday was the 100th in the coaching career of Chad Pohlmann. Pohlmann, who starred at Stevenson and later Carthage College as a player, is in his sixth season at Oswego after taking over for Mike Schnable when he retired. From 2008-10, Pohlmann led the Panthers to a 53-10 mark, including fourth place in Class 3A in 2010.

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