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Moctezuma makes due with mask

01/30/2013, 8:10pm CST
By Rick Behren

Elmwood Park has been hit hard by injuries, but none harder than the one to Jasmine Moctezuma. She’s had to wear a protective mask on her face but it hasn’t slowed her from having a productive season.

Glen Ellyn, IL - Thursday, December 13, 2012: Elmwood Park's Jasmine Moctezuma (22) puts up a shot over Glenbard South's Sydney Bauman (34). | Steve Johnston~for Sun-Times Media

The Elmwood Park girls basketball team has been hit by a slew of injuries this season.

None has been more obvious than the one sustained by Jasmine Moctezuma, who’s been taking the court wearing a protective face mask.

The 5-foot-6 senior guard/forward broke her nose in a game against Timothy Christian in early December. When she was cleared to return to action, she caught an elbow in practice, re-injuring the nose and making the mask a necessity.

Moctezuma said she had to change her game to adjust to the mask, but has demonstrated she can still be effective — and look good — while doing her thing on the hardwood.

The girls have been helping me out with various parts of my game, and they’ve been telling me it doesn’t look funny, which has helped immensely,” she said, referring to the mask. “I’ve been working on my dribbling and trying to do my best with it, but I can’t really see as well. That has forced me to change my shot and my ball handling, and the girls know I can’t see bounce passes that well so they’ve had to adapt, too.”

Moctezuma admitted she stopped being afraid to mix it up on the floor with opponents. In a home loss to Timothy Christian Friday, she went scoreless but battled in the paint for four rebounds and made a couple key steals.

Elmwood Park head coach Brian Linhart said Moctezuma continues to contribute despite the “handicap.”

“She played a little cautious at first, but she has been making some big shots lately,” he said. “She hates wearing the thing, but she can still get in a rhythm, and that’s great. And I think it (the mask) makes her look a little tougher.

“But it has been a little different for her. She has had her share of injuries over the years, whether it was her nose or her finger, but she has always been a big part of the team. We need her going. When she hits shots — like against Ridgewood when she hit two big shots from the corner when we were in a scoring drought — she lifts the rest of the team.”

Senior teammate Becca Schmidt, who returned against Timothy Christian from a knee injury, knows the difficulties that can arise after being out.

“I came out a little nervous but after the first shot I was back in it,” Schmidt said. “I think at first it was difficult for Jasmine, too, but she got the hang of it pretty quick with the mask and now she’s doing well. Jasmine is a good, confident player and I don’t think the mask ever really bothers her a whole lot. Not much does on the court.”~.

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