The Bemidji High School girls basketball team practiced Monday in Bemidji for the final time before the state tournament.
Senior captain Abby Hendricks had to watch most of it before departing to the training room to ease the swelling of her sprained ankle.
"I'm doing okay," Hendricks said with her left leg submerged knee-deep in a bucket of ice. "I'm able to do some walking and light running. I think the team will be okay since we drew Sartell in the opener and it would hopefully give me another day to rest. Then maybe I'll be able to go Thursday."
Hendricks and the rest of the Lumberjacks will be sent off from Bemidji High School this morning with a pep fest at 9:40 a.m. in the gym. Bemidji opens the state tournament against Sartell Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
It is touch and go for Hendricks right now as she recovers from the severe ankle sprain suffered in the Section 7-3A semifinal win against Grand Rapids nearly two weeks ago.
After going up for a basket under the hoop, Hendricks landed on the heel of a Grand Rapids player and twisted the ankle.
Since then, the senior starter has been asked by a number of people about her ankle condition. Those questions became more frequent in the days leading up to last Thursday's section championship game against Hibbing.
"I've been getting real good answering questions about it," Hendricks joked.
Hendricks was unable to play against Hibbing and made the best of her situation by cheering on her teammates to the 76-54 win from the bench inside Hibbing Memorial Arena.
"It was so hard to be out because it's something you work your entire life for and you can't play," Hendricks said. "But I'm a senior captain and it's my job to be a leader and be positive. If being positive is all that I can do, then I'm going to do it well."
Following the section title win, the team received individual medals and took part in the championship tradition of cutting down the nets from the hoop.
Bemidji High School athletic director Troy Hendricks presided over the postgame award ceremonies after the game and was able to present his daughter with one of those medals.
"That was a pretty special moment right there," Abby Hendricks said. "I didn't even realize it until right before it was going to happen."
Following the medal ceremony, each player on the team gathered in the paint around the hoop and awaited their turn on the ladder. Hendricks gingerly made her way up each step to slice off a portion of the net.
"My dad told me to get up there and cut it down," Hendricks said with a smile. "You know, those things are tougher to cut down than you would think."
Like the rest of her teammates, Hendricks is taking in the experience of being a state tournament team and one of the eight teams still left playing in March.
"(State) was the goal this year and more ultimately it is a state championship," Hendricks said. "We want to win state and now we have that chance. Before we would get into sections and overlook teams, but that is in the past. This year we did not get ahead of ourselves. We focus on who we are going to play and we're going to play well."
Most of the Lumberjacks have played basketball together for years at different age levels, so the bond between the team is close.
"We've played together for a long time, we have a lot of good chemistry and a lot of us are good friends off the court too," Hendricks said. "We always have looked forward to the day where we could come inside the gym doors and see a state tournament banner."
"I like our chances because we have some good talent, we're not complacent and we want to make our mark."