Photo by Bre Rogers/Collegian: Tor’e Alford dribbles the ball down the court during a Blue Dragon’s win earlier this season at the Sports Arena

By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor

Throughout the first semester, freshman guard Tor’e Alford proved herself to be a valuable player to the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team.

However, toward the end of the semester, Alford began to notice a pain in her foot.

“During the Butler game, my foot was just hurting bad. It had hurt previously, but I just wanted to play that game because it was the last game before Christmas break,” Alford said.

After playing through the sharp pains, Alford decided it was time to do something about her foot.

“I told our trainer, and went and got an MRI. It turned out it was a stress fracture in my foot from repeated movements,” Alford said.

Alford said she does not know for sure how long her foot was fractured, however, she did know her road to recovery was going to be lengthy.

“All of Christmas break, I couldn’t put any weight on it, so I was on crutches and rode the scooter around,” Alford said. “I’ve never had an injury that kept me from playing before, so it sucked because I didn’t really like sitting that much and not playing.”

The team faced hardships without their point guard, but they strived to adjust.

“[Her injury] put us in a tough position. We had to move some kids around – Abby played some point guard, and she’s played multiple positions for us,” HutchCC coach John Ontjes said.

While the team put all efforts into accommodating for Alford, her absence may have been detrimental in a close game.

“We faced some foul problems throughout the time when she was gone. We’ve had to play a lot of zone [defense]. It cost us a win at Cowley. But, we’ve survived it, and she’s back, so hopefully we get going in the right direction,” Ontjes said.

Being back is a great feeling for Alford and the rest of the team. Especially as they have a couple of difficult games coming up.

“We just have to take it one game at a time, we have to beat Barton, then start working on Seward for Saturday,” Alford said.

Now that Alford is basically back playing with no minute-limitations, Ontjes believes the team is set to get back on track where they should be.

“Anytime you miss 6-8 weeks with an injury, you usually never return. As long as she can take care of the basketball and run the offense like she’s done, she will be doing her job,” Ontjes said.

Offensively, Alford has a knack for grasping control of any situation and setting her team up to score.

“She’s got a great feel for the game. I think we flow better in transition when Tor’e has the basketball in her hands,” Ontjes said.

Alford graduated high school in Derby. Ontjes said he was excited to work with a player from such a successful basketball team.

“It was tremendous for our program to be able to get such talent in-state, right down the road. She had a wonderful high school career, played on a great team, that’s what we were excited about, the type of program she came from,” Ontjes said. “They were constantly winning – bringing that to our program is only helping the other kids on our team.” The Blue Dragons will face the Seward County Saints Saturday in Liberal.

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