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Ridgewood guard might not return

Tonight is senior night at Ridgewood. But one senior will be there on crutches: point guard Crystal Ayers.

Ayers suffered a serious injury to her right knee in the first quarter of Wednesday night's 57-53 win over Land O'Lakes.

She was carried off the court screaming, and her team had to overcome a nine-point deficit to post a victory on the road without her.

As far as the remainder of the season goes, the status of the two-time Sunshine Athletic Conference player of the year is simply unknown.

"I'm all right, I guess," she said.

"(Tonight) is my senior night, and I can't even play. My last home game."

Her father, Goldie Ayers, said his daughter underwent an X-ray exam Wednesday night at the emergency room of Bayonet Point Medical Center.

The tests revealed no broken bones.

She underwent an MRI on her right knee on Thursday. Results from the exam, expected by Monday at the latest, will determine whether or not Ayers suffered season-ending ligament damage. It's possible that it could just be a sprain.

If it is just a sprain, the father hopes his daughter, who committed to San Jose State in October, can return to the court sometime in the next two weeks.

But if it is a torn ligament, the season and the high-school career of the 5-foot-3 guard would be over.

"There's a possibility it could be a knee strain and a possibility she tore her anterior-cruciate ligament," her father said.

"We'll (soon) know for sure. Hopefully it's a knee sprain and that she'll only be out for two weeks. But if it's an ACL, she's done."

It is a scenario that she and her father tried not to dwell on Thursday.

"I try not to think about it," she said. "But I hope it's not a tear. But if it is, then you can't do anything about it."

Ayers attended Thursday's late practice to visit with her teammates.

"It was good for all of them to see her," coach Greg Bollinger said. "We watched the video of (Wednesday) night's game so she got to see what she missed."

Ayers and her father will be honored along with the rest of the seniors and their parents before tonight's game against Zephyrhills.

On Jan. 23, Ayers broke the school's career scoring record, which now stands at 1,475 points.

But it was while going for a rebound that Ayers was injured. She and her teammates were in tears after the injury.

"I had (the ball) and I thought I got pushed from behind," Ayers said, "and I came down on someone's foot and I just heard something pop and I went down.

"When it first happened it was bad. I was screaming, and then I didn't want to leave. I tried to get up and tried to play, but I couldn't move my leg side to side.

"My dad made me go to the doctor, but I wanted to stay and watch."

She hasn't lacked any well-wishers during this troubling time. In fact, she spent Thursday fielding calls from teammates, classmates, friends, teachers and neighbors.

"Everybody's been very supportive of her," her father said.

But Ayers, who is also the program's all-time leader in assists and steals, said she isn't ready for her career to end just yet.

"I haven't accomplished everything I wanted to," she said. "Yeah I set the scoring record but we haven't won districts yet.

"I haven't accomplished all my goals yet."

DIGEST

AAU BASKETBALL: The Florida Fastbreak AAU team will hold tryouts Saturday and Feb. 7 at the Hudson Recreation Center. The tryout times Saturday are 1 p.m. for boys age 16 and under; 2 p.m. for boys ages 11-12; 3 p.m. for girls ages 12-13; 4 p.m. for boys ages 13-14; and 5 p.m. for boys age 10 and under. On Feb. 7 tryout times will be 1 p.m. for boys age 10 and under; 2 p.m. boys ages 11-12; 3 p.m. for girls ages 12-13; and 4 p.m. for boys ages 13-14. For more information contact director Mike Carbone at (727) 843-8122.

CORRECTION: Former Ridgewood pitcher Justin Case signed with St. Petersburg College in 1999. He was omitted from an article Wednesday that contained a list of players who attended both schools.

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