ANNA — Lehman Catholic senior guard Alanna O’Leary has a nose for the ball — and sometimes, that doesn’t feel too pleasant.
O’Leary got clobbered in the face by the ball after a missed shot in Lehman’s 56-47 loss at Anna on Thursday and had to sit a few minutes on the bench after taking the hit. And while the sting wasn’t comfortable, it was better than the one that cost her two games a month ago.
O’Leary, who leads Lehman with an average of 9.6 points per game, was hit hard in the face during a game at Jackson Center on Jan. 13.
“She got smacked in the nose pretty hard, and she was out for two weeks,” Lehman coach Craig Hall said.
After a reacclimation period, O’Leary re-entered the starting lineup on Thursday and was a problem for the Rockets. She scored 10 of her 17 points in the first quarter and was a force on defense throughout with four steals.
“I started her tonight to show her I have confidence in her,” Hall said. “She responded, and I was tickled to death with the way she responded. She’s a great hesitation dribbler, and she did a nice job.”
O’Leary doesn’t remember much of the Jackson Center game — except for the blood.
“It was kind of all like a blur,” O’Leary said. “There was blood everywhere. A lot of pain, but everyone was really helpful. They got me checked out, recovered, iced, and now I’m back.”
Thursday’s loss was Lehman’s third consecutive in what has been an up-and-down season for the Cavaliers (8-10, 4-2 Northwest Central Conference). Prior to the current losing streak, Lehman won three consecutive games.
“We tend to play to our competition, for good or bad,” Hall said. “I asked the girls before tonight’s game to leave it all on the floor, and they did. …I’m proud of the girls. If we can keep this kind of intensity from this point forward, we’re going to have a lot of fun the rest of the season.”
O’Leary wasn’t the only player Lehman out during the stretch. The Cavaliers were also without senior forward Maddy McFarland, who averages 4.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. McFarland scored six points on Thursday.
“They were both in the ER at the same time,” Hall said. “They thought Alanna broke her nose it was so bad, and Maddy got a concussion. They both missed two or three games. We won those games, but that through our chemistry off. And after they came back, after being off for a couple of weeks, you could tell their first game back they were out of basketball shape.”
O’Leary and McFarland, along with Grace Monnin (9.4 points, 6.1 rebounds per game) and the rest of the players, have found that chemistry again according to Hall.
Anna beat the state’s top-ranked Division IV team last Saturday in Minster. O’Leary said the fact that Lehman was able to play Anna so close gives the Cavaliers’ confidence heading into the tournament, which starts later this month.
“I think this gives the girls a big incentive to really keep up the intensity and work as a team,” O’Leary said. “We did a really good job tonight working together, talking on defense. We kind of got to focus on the things we saw we needed to work on, but we also got to take pride in what we did.”
And O’Leary isn’t worried about any balls coming at her again.
“If I’m going to get hit, I’m going to get hit,” O’Leary said. “I’m cautious, but not scared.”
Lehman hosts Arcanum on Saturday.