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Phillips tackles ACL injury head-on

Hinckley-Big Rock grad recovering, leading Loras College basketball

Loras College women’s basketball coach Justin Heinzen describes sophomore point guard Kaitlin Phillips as “smart, fierce and strategic.”

Phillips, a former Hinckley-Big Rock standout, enjoyed a successful freshman campaign at Loras last season, slowly making her presence known. She became more and more comfortable each game she played and eventually assumed the starting point guard role.

But Jan. 21, Phillips went down hard on a fast break and grabbed her knee. She had suffered a torn ACL.

The current Duhawk point guard described the diagnosis as “devastating” and had surgery to repair the tear March 15 to start her rehabilitation process as quickly as possible.

Throughout her rehabilitation process, Phillips focused on strength training to regain the muscle she lost from the injury.

“A long process,” Phillips said, “but as you continue to do more you find that certain exercises begin to get easier and different strengths begin to come back.”

Phillips stayed determined and motivated to continue to work on getting better and stronger throughout the summer.

This season the Duhawks returned only seven players with previous playing experience and many underclassmen, including Phillips, are going to be counted on to play key roles this year.

Heinzen believes Phillips can be an all-conference player if she can maintain her health. Part of that progression, Phillips noted, will include improving on the defensive end.

“I really need to work on getting back to the point where I can be relied on as a key defensive player,” Phillips said.

Phillips made her anticipated return on Dec. 4 at home in Loras’ sixth game of the season. The two-time Daily Chronicle Player of the Year (2011 and 2012) played 17 minutes in her first game back and helped the Duhawks to an 81-63 win. She played another 19 minutes Saturday against Carthage College and scored four points while adding a rebound.

“It felt great to get back on the court with my teammates,” Phillips said. “I just have to get back into the flow of a game and continue to improve daily.”

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