Playing time. Kenzie Graham of Magazine moves the ball up the floor on this third period possession. Graham was limited to, officially, seven minutes of playing time due to a hamstring injury.
All star coaches. Magazine’s Randy Loyd (middle) talks with coach Jess Martin of Malvern and West All Star head coach Charles Berry of Huntsville during the second half of Thursday’s game.
It may not have been a worst case scenario but it certainly was not the ending Kenzie Graham envisioned.
Selected to play in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association all star game in Conway last week, Graham actually got to play very little in the West’s 57-47 loss to the East at the Farris Center on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
Graham, who led Magazine to a conference co-championship and a state tournament appearance in a 27-5 season, had treatments for her left hamstring twice during the game and was able to log, officially, seven minutes of playing time.
Magazine head coach Randy Loyd, who was an assistant on the all star staff, said Graham was actually bothered by both hamstrings.
Still, she was happy for the experience.
“It was an honor,” Graham said.
Graham, who wore number 23 rather than her customary 13, said she believes she did the most damage to her left hamstring during the squad’s first of two practices on Wednesday.
“I didn’t say anything after the first practice, but during the second practice it got to really bothering me,” said Graham.
Graham took the floor in the third period, but stayed only five minutes.
Barring an injury, as was the case with Graham, teams of five on the 15-player roster played the first three 7-minute periods, or the first half, and coaches were permitted to free substitute in the second half, the 8-minute fourth and fifth periods.
“She was hurt all week,” said Loyd. “She just couldn’t go.”
During her stretch in the game, Graham attempted a pair of 3-pointers but misfired on both. She also had a defensive rebound, was whistled for a foul and was charged with a turnover.
Graham also played about a minute and a half in the final period, during which she was noticeably favoring her left leg. She was replaced by Maddie Backus of Mountainburg and spent the rest of the night watching.
“I loved playing with Maddie,” Graham said.
Backus replacing Graham was somewhat ironic. The two who played against one another in the 2A-4 West, will be rooming together at the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith this fall.
Backus, who was 0-for-5, including three misses from beyond the arc in the game, but had four assists and a steal in 16 minutes, has signed to play for the Lions. Graham said Thursday she will likely concentrate on school rather than sports.
Graham’s injury was not the only one for the West. LeBreshia Scott of Ashdown and Kamera Bozeman of Watson Chapel were both helped from the floor in the second half and did not return.
It was an injury that prevented West cheerleader Lilly Dobbs of Booneville from even attending the game Thursday. Dobbs has secured a spot on the UAFS cheerleading squad this fall.
Collectively, Loyd said the West did not shoot the ball well. The numbers back up the assessment. The West was 19-of-62 from the floor, 30.6 percent, including 3-of-27 from 3-point range, or 11.1 percent. The West also hit only 6-of-15 free throws, or 40 percent.
“You can’t score 47 points in an all star game and expect to win,” he said.
The East didn’t set the nets afire either. They hit only 19-of-61 from the field, 31.1 percent, but got 4-of-18 3s to fall, 22.2 percent, and hit 15-of-22 free throws, 68.2 percent.