All-Star Williams rebounds from injury

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Vicksburg High’s Shalonda Williams drives to the basket against Terry in a game last season. (C. Todd ShermanThe Vicksburg Post)

[7/16/03]There was a time, not long ago, when Shalonda Williams’ basketball future was in serious jeopardy.

A torn ACL ended the Vicksburg High guard’s junior season before it began and left everyone wondering whether she could be the same kind of player again. Could she cut and drive to the basket like she used to? Would she be the same kind of shooter?

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When Williams steps onto the floor Thursday night at Mississippi College’s A.E. Wood Coliseum for the Mississippi Association of Coaches all-star game, all of those questions will have been answered with a resounding “yes”.

She will play for the North in the game and is the only player from a Class 5A school in the girls’ all-star game, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $5.

“I think I’m going to do good,” Williams said. “I’ve been running a little, trying to stay in shape. I just want to go out and have fun, really.”

A couple of years ago, having fun in an all-star game was one of the last things Williams was thinking about.

During a tough overtime loss to then-No. 3 Provine in the sixth game of her junior season in 2001, Williams went in for a layup and her leg gave way as she landed. The injury didn’t seem serious at first, but further examination revealed a season-ending injury to her anterior cruciate ligament.

Williams, who had averaged 11 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists per game in her first two seasons, missed the rest of her junior year. While rehabbing the injury, though, she rededicated herself to the game and came back as good as ever.

“When I was going through rehab, it was really hard. I was focused on just getting to that point where I could play like I did before,” Williams said.

When she came back, though, she wasn’t as good as before the injury. She was better.

Williams averaged 11.2 points per game, 3 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals in her senior year. She was a Vicksburg Post all-county selection for the third time, and earned a basketball scholarship to Holmes Community College.

Despite her breakout season, the all-star selection came as a surprise to Williams.

“I was really shocked, because there’s so many good girls,” Williams said. “I really didn’t think I was going to get picked. It’s an honor to get picked for the all-star team.”

VHS coach Mike Coleman said the injury actually contributed to Williams’ success by making her realize how much she enjoyed playing basketball. Now the hard work is paying off with a hard-won honor.

“Back when she first hurt it, she was already talking about how much she missed basketball and how much she wanted to play,” Coleman said. “I think that made her work harder. She was pretty determined to come back last season.”