Braden Norris drove to the basket like he had countless times, but this was a little different.
The senior point guard for the Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team felt a twinge in his right foot during a 66-47 home win over Teays Valley on Dec. 6. It wasn't enough for him to leave the game immediately, but a few minutes later it became apparent things weren't as they should be.
Norris would come to find out that he had a slight break of the fifth metatarsal -- the small toe -- and would need surgery just two games into the season.
"I was driving and was fouled," Norris said of the play, which occurred in the second quarter. "When I planted my right foot, I heard a crack. There was no pain or anything like that, but it just didn't feel right. I probably played for like two more minutes and the pain increased over time and I had to come out."
Norris, a fourth-year starter and son of coach Brett Norris, underwent surgery Dec. 11 and was expected to be sidelined for about two months.
"A lot of things were going through my head, like whether I would ever put on a jersey again and everything like that," he said. "Especially the first few days after we found out about everything, it was really hard. But since then, I have just tried to be really positive and look to the future. I know I'll be back in the future, so I have to make the most of this opportunity."
Last season, Norris averaged 16.1 points, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals and was named second-team all-state and first-team all-district in Division I as well as OCC-Cardinal Division Player of the Year. He has 1,159 career points.
Norris, who has signed to play at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, is aiming to return to the lineup in early February.
"When I went to the doctor, they said I probably would have to have surgery and would be out 10 to 12 weeks and there was no way that I would return (this season)," he said. "Then we went to my foot specialist and was told I would be out six to eight weeks and they were confident I would be back full-go by the end of the season."
Wearing a cast on his foot and riding around on his knee walker scooter, Norris is doing his best to stay in shape. He is able to get in some shooting, albeit short-range jumpers, but also wants to make sure he is ready to go cardiovascular-wise upon his return.
"I try to stay in the paint and get some shots up and handle the ball as much as I can," he said. "I mostly just try to work on my cardio.
"As far as keeping myself in shape, I try to lift every day and do as much cardio with my upper body that I can so when I come back I will be in some sort of good shape. I do pull-ups and things like ball-slams. There's this machine in the weight room that's like a bike for your arms and it gets my heart rate going."
Norris is scheduled to have his cast removed Jan. 23. He then will wear a walking boot for a couple of weeks.
"The nice thing is when I'm in a walking boot, I can do all of my rehab," he said. "As soon as I get the walking boot off, hopefully I can be back in action. Realistically, I'm looking toward (returning) one or two games into February.
"I feel like everyone says this when they are injured, but you take for granted the opportunity you have every day and you realize just how much you love the game. I can't wait to get back (to playing) and I personally am going to work as hard as I can because I know how much it means to me."
In the meantime, Norris is making the most of the situation by assisting his teammates as much as possible from the bench. He has been helping sophomore Matt Allocco make the transition from part-time to full-time point guard for the Jaguars, who were 8-1 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Dublin Scioto on Jan. 9.
"It's tough because you want to be out there as much as you can," Norris said. "I try to get myself involved as much as I can. I can still lead from the sideline and coach them up. I can be like a coach and be a vocal leader on the bench."
Allocco said the change hasn't been easy, but the primary key to success is for each person to play within himself.
"As coach Norris told us all, we don't have to be any more than we already are, we just have to be our best selves," said Allocco, who was averaging 14.3 points through nine games. "Obviously, it's tough because we had a good teammate go down, but we have to work past it and keep getting better."
Coach Norris said it initially was difficult separating being Braden's father from being Braden's coach after the injury occurred, but he had to regroup and continue his team's journey through the season.
"The biggest adjustment is the human-nature aspect in which everyone feels the need to do more," he said. "Sometimes when you try to do more or be something that you are not, you end up losing what makes you a good player in the first place. We fought a little bit of that.
"When you lose a significant piece, you have to make some adjustments in terms of what you run, but you need to get back to each one of our players having trust in one another. Braden has played so much basketball for us and then you take it out of there, it's foreign. We have not played a lot without him, so we're regaining trust in the rotation of the guys on the floor."
Girls basketball team picking up steam
The girls basketball team had won three consecutive games and four of its past five before playing Scioto in an OCC-Cardinal contest Jan. 9.
Bradley was 4-7 overall and 2-3 in the league before facing the Irish.
The Jaguars have played much of the season without senior point guard Teneea Heston, who missed time because of a left knee injury. She returned to the lineup Dec. 27 in the Watterson Christmas Classic, scoring nine points in a 53-44 win over New Albany to start the winning streak.
Kamerin Hillis had 19 points, including five 3-pointers, against the Eagles.
Carly Callahan scored 12 points to lead Bradley past Chillicothe 38-22 on Dec. 28 in the Watterson Christmas Classic.
Then, in a 59-43 win over Delaware in a league contest Jan. 5, Callahan had 20 points with four 3-pointers, Heston scored 12 points and Abbey White scored 10.
Sawchuk places third for wrestling squad
Deacon Sawchuk placed third at 106 pounds to lead the wrestling team in the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday Tournament held Dec. 27 and 28 at Vandalia Butler.
The freshman defeated St. Paris Graham's Trace Braun 9-7 in the consolation final as the Jaguars finished seventh (88.5 points) of 27 teams in the Division I standings. Buford (Georgia) won the title with 192 points.
Zander Ellison (138) placed fifth, while Issa Khalil (195) finished sixth and Adam McCardle (182) finished eighth.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley boys basketball, girls basketball, bowling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling teams:
*Jan. 12 -- At Darby
Jan. 13 -- Orlando (Fla.) Christian Prep in Flyin' to the Hoop at Kettering Fairmont
*Jan. 12 -- At Darby. The Jaguars lost to the Panthers 48-44 on Dec. 5.
Jan. 16 -- Home vs. Marysville
*Jan. 11 -- Lancaster at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl
Jan. 13 -- Sectional Preview at Twin Star Lanes
*Jan. 17 -- Pickerington North at Rule 3
Jan. 13 -- McGee Invitational at Dublin Coffman
Jan. 17 -- At Dublin Coffman with Darby, Davidson, Delaware, *Dublin Jerome and *Dublin Scioto
SWIMMING & DIVING
Jan. 13 -- Darby, Davidson and Olentangy at Hilliard YMCA
*Jan. 11 -- At Dublin Scioto
Jan. 13 -- Porter Memorial Tournament at home