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With Allen back, Eagles hope to soar

By ADAM HIMMELSBACH

When Fredericksburg Christian School star Seth Allen broke a bone in his left hand on Dec. 26, he figured his season and his high school basketball career were over.

He knew there was a chance the injury could require surgery. He knew he’d be fitted for a cast. And he knew that even if he healed more quickly than expected, his future coaches at Maryland might discourage him from playing again this year.

“But they just told me to get healthy and get back as soon as I was ready,” Allen said.

And that was all the motivation he needed.

He stayed in shape by running about six miles on a treadmill each night. He stayed involved with the team by coming to practices and acting as an assistant coach. And he stayed healthy by guzzling milk and taking calcium supplements.

Doctors originally told Allen there was a chance he could return in time for the playoffs in late February.

But on Feb. 2, hours before the Eagles faced Massaponax, he stunned his team when he said he had been cleared to play.

“I was just so happy,” Allen said.

Just like that, it became clear that Fredericksburg Christian would be a factor in the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association state tournament, which begins next month.

On Thursday night, Allen scored 14 points as the Eagles (20–5) defeated Middleburg Academy, 63–62.

When these two teams met on Jan. 24, Allen was sidelined and the Dragons cruised to a 71–60 win.

“It’s great that he’s back out there with us again,” FCS forward Eric Shaw said.

Allen, who was named The Free Lance–Star’s boys basketball player of the year last season, suffered the injury while playing basketball the day after Christmas.

He said the player who was guarding him inadvertently hit his left (shooting) hand, fracturing the fourth metacarpal.

“I knew it was broken as soon as it happened,” said Allen, a 6-foot-1 guard. “But everything happens for a reason, so I just took it as a positive and tried to become a better leader.”

The fracture did not require surgery, and Allen was fitted with a half-cast. He was told he could be out for eight weeks, which would have all but ended his season.

But he was determined to smash that timetable.

At practices, he had a chance to step back and observe the Eagles offense from afar. He became more familiar with the working parts, and he developed a better understanding of his teammates’ roles.

“He’s going to make a great coach someday,” FCS coach Darren Berkley said. “But it was also torturous for him to sit there and watch.”

At practices, Allen often dribbled around with his right hand and took some shots off to the side.

After about a month, his cast was removed and replaced with a removable splint. As Allen became more comfortable, he began removing the splint for light workouts.

Then, just hours before the Massaponax game on Feb. 2, Allen and the Eagles got the news they had been awaiting.

Allen’s return instantly made the Eagles’ fast-breaking offense more explosive.

Against Middleburg, Allen showed flashes of the explosive first step and soft shooting touch that make him so difficult to slow down.

He made it to the rim just as easily as always, but he misfired on several shots from close range and was held to two second-half points.

He said he has not yet fully returned to form, but the Eagles have three scheduled games remaining before the Delaney Conference tournament begins next Tuesday.

“I’m still out of rhythm,” Allen said. “I think I’m at like 75 percent. When I get to 100 percent, I’ll really feel better.”

And that means the Eagles’ opponents will probably feel worse.

Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442

ahimmelsbach@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/sports/2012/02/13/with-allen-back-eagles-hope-to-soar/