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Lions’ Makuch motivated for big season after knee injury

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DEXTER — The General Brown girls basketball team has its 5-foot-10 forward back.

And Monica Makuch has her smile back.

Makuch, one of the Frontier League’s bright young talents in 2010-11, missed all of last season while recovering from reconstructive surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.

Now she is back for her senior year, looking to pick up where she left off for the Lions.

“It’s great just to play with my team again, I really missed it,” said Makuch, the team’s longest-tenured player in her fourth varsity season. “It was a long year last year.”

Makuch started as a sophomore two years ago, helping General Brown to a 13-6 overall record and a 10-4 mark in the league, its highest win total since 2002.

Then, as Makuch and her teammates were at a team basketball camp the following summer at Clarkson, Makuch’s hopes of following up on that 2010-11 season vanished.

She left one of the camp’s scrimmages with a knee injury, which was later revealed to be a complete ACL tear. She needed surgery and was forced to sit out her junior year in soccer and basketball.

Makuch’s initial reaction was devastation.

“Tears, for a long time,” Makuch said. “Every time I went to talk about it, I couldn’t imagine myself not out there.”

“It was hard. So many emotions going on, it was very difficult,” she added.

But Makuch didn’t stay at home and sulk during the season. She did the complete opposite.

“It was very difficult knowing that we were so strong the year before, and that I couldn’t contribute to the next year,” Makuch said. “But it helped knowing that my team could pick up where I left off, and just helping out around the team and helping them get stronger and using what I know to help them. Then knowing that the next year I could come back to see what I could do.”

Makuch attended just about all of the team’s games and practices, and other outside team activities.

General Brown coach Mike Hulbert said that the only time Makuch missed an event was when the time conflicted with her physical therapy appointments.

“She showed the girls how much she loves basketball, and how much the team means to her,” Hulbert said.

“She was there, cheering on the other girls and was still a leader on our team, even as frustrated as she was,” Hulbert added. “A lot of girls wouldn’t have done that, but she did. It goes to show how much character she has.”

Makuch also became one of the area’s biggest girls basketball fans. She attended countless Frontier League and Section 3 playoff games, partially to play the role of scout for her teammates, and to consume as much basketball as she could.

“The love of the game, plus trying to scout for my team to help where I could,” Makuch said. “I like to watch when I can and be around it. I love it.”

Makuch was cleared to return on the first day of softball practice last spring.

After full seasons of softball and soccer, with a summer of basketball in between, Makuch said she feels that she is back at full strength.

Three games into this season, Makuch is third on the team in scoring with a 6.3 points-per-game average. She scored a season-high nine points in General Brown’s first win of the season, over Beaver River last Friday.

“Her teammates love her and it was really hard on everybody, especially her, but everybody missed her on the court,” Hulbert said. “We’re really glad to have her back.”

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