Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Lightbourne, Jarosz Return After Lengthy Absences

Two key women's players are playing, again, after lengthy absences with injuries.

Shereen Lightbourne of Rider, a 5-foot-10 guard who looked like she would be one of the to players in the league at one point, has been playing this season after missing all of the last two years with knee injuries.

And, 6-3 post player Tori Jarosz of Marist is also back after missing all but one game last season and all of Marist's games to date this year until recently.

Lightbourne had been a do-everything off-guard during her first two seasons at Rider and did enough in the 2010-11 season, her sophomore year to be the program's MVP after averaging 9.7 points per contest.

And, then, prior to her junior year she suffered a knee injury that kept her off the court through 2011-12.

She appeared ready to return in 2012-13 when, once again, she suffered another knee injury that forced her to miss all of that season, too.

Lightbourne is now a graduate student at Rider, her fifth year at the school, and has been back on the court since the start of this season.

She only got on the court for four minutes in her first appearance this season, followed by a pair of three-minute contributions. But, her playing time has been gradually increasing since then and, so too, has her contributions.

She has played at least 11 minutes for the past four games, and had her best statistical game to date Tuesday afternoon in the Broncs' 77-63 victory over the Saints.

She had six points (2-of-3 shooting), three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 11 minutes in that contest and was at her best with Rider trying to hold on to what was a five-point lead with 2:28 remaining.

Lightbourne then got the call to enter the game and immediately helped beat Siena's pressing defense with a crisp pass to teammate MyNeshia McKenzie for a layup.

A few seconds later she sank her second three-pointer of the contest to lift her team's margin to a comfortable 10-point one that helped secure the victory.

Jarosz has also been away from playing most of the past two seasons. She missed 2011-12 after transferring to Marist from Vanderbilt, where she spent her freshman season. But, she was still able to practice with the Red Foxes last year.

She got in Marist's first game of the 2012-13 season, contributing 14 points and two rebounds, before suffering a season-ending wrist injury.

And, then, this past spring she tore an Achilles tendon in a workout and missed all of Marist's preseason drills and the team's first 11 games this season.

Jarosz finally made her return on Tuesday, playing seven minutes in a victory over Canisius. Her contribution was a single blocked shot, but her return could eventually provide a big (literally) lift to Marist, which had been undersized this year.

"This game gave me an opportunity to just shake off the nervs and get out there and try to get some minutes to get back," Jarosz told the Poughkeepsie Journal after Tuesday's game. "I was just focused and ready whenever coach (Brian Giorgis) called on me to come in and do the best I can to help the team."

The report indicated that Jarosz received a "warm ovation" from her home-court crowd when she checked into Tuesday's game midway through the first half.

It's nice to see both players returning to full health and back and contributing to their respective programs.

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