Blisard to play in all-star hardwood event Saturday
Cassville senior pushes past injuries to be leader for the Lady Wildcats
Area basketball enthusiasts will have one last opportunity to watch prep hardwood action this year, as the 36th annual Lions All-Star Twin Classic Basketball Game, hosted by Lions Clubs of Missouri District 26-M6, is set for Saturday in Neosho.
For Cassville senior Raeghan Blisard, the contest will serve as her swan song to a game, team and community that has meant everything to her.
"I've always felt a great sense of pride every time I put my Cassville jersey on," Blisard said. "I didn't want to let my teammates, community or coaches down. I always gave it my all."
Blissard, more than most, knows that playing time is precious.
During her four-year career, she underwent ACL surgery on both of her knees.
"Raeghan was never at 100 percent," he said. "She never complained and never wanted sympathy. Raeghan was a player of pure grit. She handled herself better than I would have."
Blisard blew her first ACL during her sophomore season. In less than a year, she had made a full recovery and was Cassville's leading scorer her junior season.
"Our offense ran through Raeghan," Shore said. "We were just a different team with her on the floor. She is the type of player a coach wishes he could clone and keep forever."
Success did not last long for Blisard, on the first day of
summer basketball practice, after her junior season, she pulled up lame in a scrimmage with a familiar pain.
"I knew immediately that I had blown my ACL," she said. "Only this time, it was in my other knee."
Knowing what to expect rehab-wise, and not wanting to miss her senior season, Blisard pushed herself to recover.
"I just stayed focused and stuck to my workout plan," she said. "I knew that I had to get back on the floor. I had teammates counting on me."
According to her coach, the second comeback was littered with speed bumps.
"It was really tough for her to make it back this season from her second ACL injury," Shore said. "She felt pressure to get back and was really under the gun time wise."
Blisard was finally released to play for the Lady Wildcats the third game of the season.
Without having a full practice under her belt, Blisard led the Lady Wildcats in scoring against Southwest in her first game back. She would lead Cassville in points for the next three contests.
"She was just such a competitor," Shore said. "We tried to be careful with her minutes and ease her back in, but she always pushed to get on the floor."
Blisard, according to Shore, was the heart and soul of the Lady Wildcats. Her attitude, work ethic and determination set her apart from others.
"She always had something that she needed to prove," he said. "I think that it is awesome that she earned a berth onto the all-star team. She has earned it."
Blisard averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists this season for the Lady Wildcats.
"All I ever wanted to do was play basketball," Blisard said. "Saturday, I get to play one more game. I'm pretty excited."
Tipoff for the All-Star game is set for 6:30 p.m.