Taan set out to prove her doctors wrong, and she is doing so as Kodiak enters the last two weeks of the girls basketball regular season.
Before the surgery, the 5-foot-3 guard played off the bench. Now, she’s earned a starting spot and has set a handful of career marks.
“She has more than exceeded my expectations,” first-year Kodiak coach Stephanie Dandliker said. “I am so proud of Jadelle and the work that she put in this year.”
Dandliker was on the side of the doctors when the season started and wasn’t expecting Taan to play.
“It was pretty iffy in my mind,” Dandliker said. “It was painful for me to watch her practice at the beginning of the year, because she looked like she was in pain and she looked like she was favoring her knee.
“I know it was hard for her to not get much playing time in the beginning of the year, but I told her this is high school basketball, I am not going to push you so that you break your body for the rest of your life.”
Taan, though, made it hard for Dandliker to keep her out of the starting lineup. She provided a spark off the bench early in the season and has carried her hustle play into her new role.
“I just wanted to prove myself,” Taan said. “Just because I got injured I could still play to my potential. I worked really hard to get myself a starting spot.”
Taan started as a sophomore but was coming off the bench as a junior when she tore her left ACL during a mid-season practice.
When she twisted her knee while getting tangled with another player, Taan thought she would just be able to walk off the soreness.
“At first, I thought it was just a twist and not something serious,” she said. “I tried walking on it, but I couldn’t put pressure on it. I iced my knee that night, then the next morning it was still really swollen, so I went to the doctors.”
An MRI revealed a torn ACL, and weeks later she flew to Anchorage for the 30-minute surgery.
“The doctor recommended for me not to (play), because it was a recent injury,” Taan said. “But I told him it was my senior year and I wanted to play.”
She spent months rehabilitating, doing step-ups, single leg squats and hopping in place.
“You get bored doing it over and over again, but I didn’t want to miss out playing basketball, so I tried to push myself to get better before the season started,” she said.
The grueling rehabilitation paid off, as Taan is having the best season of her prep career.
She’s averaging a career-high 4.9 points per game and has become the Bears’ most reliable 3-point threat. She made a combined four three-pointers in Kodiak’s two losses against Kenai last weekend.
Taan said her knee still isn’t as strong as she would like, but it does not hamper her performances.
“To me, she still favors her knee) a little bit, but it is less pain and more fear,” Dandliker said. “She is one of our hardest players and she plays hard all the time, even when she is tired.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at firstname.lastname@example.org.