Clearwater point guard Nicole Ryan won't be returning this season as hoped, as mid-December knee surgery ended her high school career.
Ryan, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee shortly after last season ended, was playing herself back into shape after rehabilitating all summer when she reinjured the same knee Dec. 11 against Largo.
Originally, the second injury was diagnosed as a partial tear of the lateral meniscus, a flat, disc-shaped ligament that stabilizes the outer portion of the joint. Her doctor said she would probably miss 6-8 weeks and could return for the playoffs.
But Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt said a few days later, after more tests, it was discovered Ryan had torn her ACL again.
She had surgery the following week, telling her teammates on Dec. 17 after loss to Gainesville Eastside that she would not be returning.
"It hurt to hear that," guard Rachel Hammond said. "It definitely is a big loss for us."
Ryan was the Times' Pinellas County and All-Suncoast player of the year last season, and has signed a scholarship to play basketball next season for American University.
_ JOHN C. COTEY,
Times staff writer