By John L. Braese
NYSSA – As fans entered the Nyssa High School gym last Tuesday to watch the battle between the Bulldogs and Vale Vikings, each received the obligatory roster listing names and numbers.
On the Nyssa roster, No. 24 was Mickena Ausman, a senior listed at 5 feet 7.
The Bulldog starter, though, wasn’t in uniform and wouldn’t be taking the court. That didn’t keep her from helping her teammates.
Sidelined by injury, she yelled out screens, screamed whom to pick up off a pick and cheered the Nyssa’s 50-43 win.
“It is bittersweet watching and not being out there,” Ausman said. “At times, it is just plain torture.”
Ausman went down with a year-ending knee injury on Jan. 5 in Nyssa’s home league opener against Riverside. Chasing a loose ball, Ausman went to the floor and heard the knee pop.
“As soon as the doctor told me how serious it was the next day, my mom called coach,” she said, referring to Jeremy Chamberlain. “She asked if I was still on the team. He said of course I was still a part of the team and he needed me to be there.”
Ausman spent the game screaming about a double team or high fiving teammates coming off the court.
“I will admit I have nightmares when someone goes to the floor that their knee is going to pop out like mine,” she said.
Her injury also means no senior year as sprinter on the track team.
“It is tough being this is my senior year, but I am here to support the team however I can,” Ausman said.
In last week’s matchup, the Vikings led 12-11 after the first quarter and entered the locker room at the half ahead 22-20.
The third quarter was a battle of 3-point shots. The quarter ended with a basket at the buzzer from Nyssa’s Sailor Hartley, giving the Bulldogs a 36-31 lead.
The Dawgs extended the lead with inside plays to Kierra Hernandez and long-range shooting.
“The shots just fell for us,” said Chamberlain. “In the first game against Vale, we had the same looks as tonight, but they just would not go in. When we get those outside shots falling, it compliments what we can do inside with Kierra.”
Chamberlain also credited the Nyssa win to taking care of the ball.
“We still need to rebound better,” he said. “Vale did a good job on the boards tonight.”
“I think we earned the win tonight,” said senior Kelsey Tucker. “We worked hard at practice and worked hard during the game.”
“I think we played hard tonight, but it just didn’t break our way,” said Vale Coach Jason Johnson. “Nyssa made a lot of threes and our defense made a lot of mistakes that allowed them to make shots.”
Sailor Hartley led Nyssa with 17 points and Hernandez added 13.
For the Vikings, Dallie Johnson had 12 points. Tessa McFetridge and Matyson Siddoway each scored 9 points.