Injuries have become a way of life for Alyssa Feeley, who has learned to laugh at her misfortune.
The 5-foot-9 senior post player for the Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball team has had numerous arm and leg injuries throughout her life.
Nothing is broken right now, although Feeley has endured various ailments in the last year. She's averaging 8.8 points for the Pioneers, who are 5-17 overall and finished 0-10 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
"I must be a klutz or at least accident-prone," Feeley said. "When I moved in here from Circleville in the summer before my freshman year, I had a broken ankle.
"Every year in elementary school, I broke a bone. I broke my right elbow three times. I broke my kneecap, my tibia and fibula, my ankle, my wrist and (had) two concussions to go with all of the stuff this year.
"It's never-ending with me, and all of my injuries have been on my right side. When I get hurt people are like, 'Oh, she's hurt again. When is she going to be back?' It's been one thing after another."
As a sophomore and junior, Feeley missed time with concussion-related symptoms.
Last summer, she suffered a broken kneecap and strains to both her ACL and MCL. That forced her to miss most of the offseason workouts.
"I went for a layup at a team camp (at the University of) Kentucky over the summer and hyperextended it," Feeley said. "Luckily it wasn't my ACL, but I still was out three months. Then before our first scrimmage, I dropped a 25-pound weight on my (right) foot and broke a toe in lifting class and then when I got back I sprained my (right) wrist.
"After that I got a back injury and was being treated for that, but it wasn't getting better. So they checked me out and found I had a double-kidney infection, so I was in the hospital over (winter) break. I have been through the wringer, but (currently) this is the best I have ever played."
Feeley's strong play came at the right time for the Pioneers. During winter break, Orange lost 6-1 junior post player Aurelia Johnson to a left knee injury and junior forward Taylor Myers moved from the district.
"Alyssa is happy-go-lucky and she brings a good energy to the team," coach Bob Scott said. "She's an undersized post player who plays hard and who is good at finishing."
The Pioneers are seeded 38th for the Division I district tournament and play a first-round game Saturday, Feb. 17, at eighth-seeded Hartley. The winner plays 36th-seeded Dublin Jerome on Feb. 23 at the home of the better seed.
Senior guard McKenna Ford made a program-record eight 3-pointers as part of her career-high 28 points as Orange defeated Franklin Heights 89-23 on Feb. 6. Feeley had 16 points, as did Lauren Perone, who also made four 3s. Anna Grabau added 15 points.
Ford said missing players in the post has had a big impact on the season.
"Once January hit, we had a lot of injuries and sickness," Ford said. "I was sick and Alyssa was sick. At the beginning of the season, we were without both of our post players and we never really did have them both together very much."
Feeley said being an undersized post player means she's always adjusting.
"I feel like every game I have to be a different kind of player," she said. "I feel like I have to go out and run faster and jump higher than everyone.
"I have always gone up against taller players, and it really makes me want to work harder when I know I'm going up against a girl who is 6-3 or something like that. If I can outbound her even a couple of times, it makes me feel better. Just because I'm smaller doesn't mean I'm not as good as them. That's how I have to look at it all of the time."
The mismatches and injuries haven't dampened Feeley's spirits.
"I try to keep our team as positive as possible," she said. "I'm probably the most optimistic on our team, probably because of all the injuries that I have had. I have to be positive because I've had so many obstacles and look toward the better things. Taking the best out of those situations has made me a positive person."
Cheetham to dive at state meet
Lauren Cheetham finished second in the Division I district girls diving meet Feb. 12 at Dublin Community Recreation Center to advance to state Feb. 22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
Cheetham scored 512.6 points to finish behind Maycey Vieta (524.7) of Gahanna, the defending state champion. The top four finishers advanced.
Cheetham was a state qualifier as a freshman but was unable to compete at district last year because of an injury.
"It's great," she said. "Unfortunately, I was unable to compete (at district) last year because I broke my wrist a week before district. To return back to state feels really nice. I got off to a rocky start but told myself there was more to come. I let the nerves kind of go away. We have a lot of good girls here so it makes for a great competition."
In swimming, Natalie Johnson and Mason Reid lead the Pioneers into district Saturday, Feb. 17, at Ohio University.
Johnson is seeded sixth in two events. In a sectional Feb. 10 at Kenyon College, she was third in both the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 57.45 seconds) and 500 free (5:12.5). She also joined Brooke Farren, Cali Butler and Emma Logan on the fifth-place 400 free relay (3:50.18) that is seeded 13th at district.
The girls were fifth (133) of 10 teams at sectional behind champion Dublin Coffman (274), and the boys were seventh (83) of 11 teams behind champion Dublin Jerome (270).
Reid is seeded seventh in two district events after finishing fifth in the 100 free (48.37) and sixth in the 50 free (22.05) at sectional. He also joined Nicholas Chugh, Ronak Tripathy and Patrick Mahoney on the fourth-place 200 medley relay (1:41.15) that is seeded eighth at district.
The winner of each sectional event and 27 at-large qualifiers in each event based on times from the Central, East and Southeast sectional sites advanced to district.
At district, the top two placers in each event automatically advance to state Feb. 23 and 24. In addition, 16 at-large state berths will be awarded for each event based on district times statewide.
Boys district diving was Feb. 13 at Dublin Community Recreation Center, with the top five placers qualifying for state Feb. 24.
Hockey team prepares for district tourney
The 11th-seeded hockey team begins district play Saturday, Feb. 17, against 23rd-seeded Mason at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The Pioneers are 18-15-1 and have not played Mason this season.
The winner advances to a second-round game against third-seeded St. Charles on Sunday, Feb. 18, at Chiller North. Orange defeated St. Charles 2-1 in overtime Dec. 22 in Capital Hockey Conference play.
The second-round winner plays fifth-seeded Upper Arlington, 14th-seeded Centerville or 18th-seeded DeSales in the third round Feb. 24 at the Ice Haus.
Orange picked up some momentum heading into district by placing second in the consolation bracket of the Blue Jackets Cup, losing to New Albany 4-2 on Feb. 11 in the final.
Zach Miller scored in overtime off a Jack Wander pass to lift the Pioneers past Coffman 5-4 on Feb. 9 in the first round. They then defeated DeSales 5-0 in a semifinal Feb. 10.
Boys team seeded 13th in district tournament
The boys basketball team is seeded 13th for the Division I district tournament and has a first-round bye.
The Pioneers, who were 12-8 overall before playing Dublin Scioto on Feb. 13, open the postseason March 2 against 12th-seeded Logan or 21st-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley at the home of the better seed.
Matt McCollum had 20 points, Bryson Lane scored 19 and Jalen Bethel had 18 as Orange lost to Olentangy 87-84 in two overtimes Feb. 9. Luke Ballinger added 14 points with four 3-pointers for the Pioneers, who dropped to 3-6 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Gymnasts finish third in league meet
The gymnastics team had four competitors finish in the top eight of the all-around in the OCC-Buckeye meet Feb. 10 at Hilliard Davidson.
The Pioneers scored 124.75 points to finish third behind Olentangy (140.5) and Liberty (128.15) and ahead of Big Walnut (118.75) and Westerville Central (118.325).
Grace Ritterspach led Orange by finishing fourth in the all-around (32.025). The freshman was buoyed by a seventh-place finish in uneven bars (7.75).
Junior Nicole Carifa was fifth in the all-around (31.375) thanks to placing seventh in vault (8.2) and ninth in floor exercise (8.525). Sophomore Olivia Dieckmann was seventh in the all-around (30.525) and ninth on vault (8.2), and freshman Emma Wood was eighth in the all-around (30.375) and 11th on vault (8.0).
Orange athletes select colleges
Seven Orange student-athletes announced their college decisions Feb. 7.
Griffin DeBolt will play men's soccer at Butler, Delaney Earl will compete in women's soccer at Otterbein, Zane Fisher will play football at Saint Francis, Mackenzie Koons will compete in women's soccer at Otterbein, Jayden Rodgers will play football at Grand Valley State, Cassidy Ryan will compete in women's soccer at Georgia State and Luke Schmeling will play football at Otterbein.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange boys basketball and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 16 -- Home vs. Westerville North. The Pioneers lost to the Warriors 68-61 on Jan. 16.
*Feb. 15 -- At Olentangy
*League contestAt a glance
Below are the district qualifiers with sectional time and district seeds for the Orange boys and girls swimming teams:
BOYS -- Nicholas Chugh: 100 breast (1:03.19, 23rd), Cullen Dickson: 100 fly (56.1, 22nd); Patrick Mahoney: 50 free (22.54, 19th); Mason Reid: 50 free (22.05, seventh), 100 free (48.37, seventh); Ronak Tripathy: 50 free (22.37, 15th), 100 free (49.36, 16th); Graham Weidenhamer: 100 breast (1:03.86, 27th), 500 free (5:01.11, 19th); 200 free relay (1:30.36, fourth); 200 medley relay (1:41.15, eighth); 400 free relay (3:37.32, 25th)
GIRLS -- Cali Butler: 100 back (1:02.26, 29th), 200 IM (2:18.92, 19th); Alice Crowe: 100 breast (1:11.19, 21st), 200 IM (2:19.34, 21st); Brooke Farren: 100 back (1:00.98, 16th), 100 fly (1:01.01, 25th); Natalie Johnson: 200 free (1:57.45, sixth), 500 free (5:12.5, sixth); Erika Knodel: 100 back (1:01.17, 18th), 100 fly (59.79, 17th); Emma Logan: 100 breast (1:12.59, 27th), 500 free (5:41.5, 28th); Sydney Robare: 500 free (5:29.4, 14th); 200 free relay (1:49.58, 20th); 200 medley relay (1:56.62, 17th); 400 free relay (3:50.18, 13th)