Mar 11, 2013
Foe makes way for a Charger's final shot
By Tim Gallagher, Sioux City Journal
Briar Cliff head coach Mike Power, left, hugs Kela Cihak after her final game as a Charger. Photo by Nancy McGuire
SIOUX CITY | Tears fill Kela Cihak’s eyes as she takes the court with 23 seconds remaining in Briar Cliff’s game Saturday night, an Elite 8 contest in the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship at the Tyson Events Center.
Twenty-three seconds? That’s what remains in Briar Cliff’s season. The time ticking away in Cihak’s competitive career.
Cihak, a senior point guard from Avon, S.D., tears the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee three weeks ago in the final game of the regular season. The honorable mention all-conference performer plays defense as she plants and shifts. She feels the knee and her basketball dreams pop.
Cihak, a starter, delays surgery until the season ends, giving her hope to suit up for her Chargers in the national tournament. The knee improves until six days ago when it gives out in the closing minutes of a practice session.
She doesn’t dress for the Chargers’ opening-round win over Siena Heights University on Thursday. She dons a uniform the next night, Friday, but only watches and cheers her teammates during an upset victory over College of the Ozarks.
That leaves an Elite 8 contest versus favored Indiana Wesleyan, a tall order for Coach Mike Power’s young team.
“Coach Power told me Saturday that he didn’t hope it got to a point where we were losing at the end of the game,” Cihak says. “But if it did get to that point, he might put me on the court for just a couple of seconds.”
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