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CENTRAL HIGH —
Central High junior Ian Hickman only got to play one game as the team’s starting point guard before hurting his ankle.
The injury was heartbreaking, but he worked hard to get back on the floor. With the help of his teammates, he made his return in practice, only to have his season put back in doubt, injuring his other ankle.
“It was devastating, but I knew my teammates were there for me,” Hickman said. “After the second one, they kept coming up to me and saying ‘Keep your head up. We really need you.’
“I probably wouldn’t have rehabbed as fast as I did if it wasn’t for them constantly in my ear giving me positive thoughts.”
Still, being relagated to the bench became a difficult position for one of the team’s top offensive and defensive threats. Hickman’s brother Zarek is a senior on the team. Zarek said it gave his brother fits to watch the team from the sidelines.
“I think just about all I heard was, ‘I wish I was out there.’” Zarek said. “He beat himself up a lot over it, but he did as much as he could to come back.”
It was a season in chaos for Hickman, who had worked so hard in the offseason to make it one to remember. Zarek said the junior had spent night in and night out working to perfect everything about his game. Coach John Nease added that was why he came back so quickly.
“A lot of what he has been able to do this season, coming back from the injuries, goes to the work and time he put in the offseason,” Nease said. “That’s what coaches desire from their players. They can see the ones that want to put in the time outside practice and get better.”
For the point guard, it’s all about the experience. He enjoys playing with this group of seniors led by Kevin Harris and John Repp. He feels they deserve a long run in the playoffs and appreciates getting a chance to make that possible.
“That’s a great group of guys that I’m playing with,” Hickman said. “I can take from this. Next year, when I’m one of the main parts in this team, I can insert what I’ve learned.”
Besides being one of the team’s top scorers, Hickman is also a lightning rod for the team. Nease feels he can play the role of energizing the Bronchos when things aren’t going their way.
“That is going to develop especially as he gets to his senior year, his leadership emotionally,” Nease said. “Being able to control the team, not by scoring 30 or 40 points, but by his tempo and the way he plays.”