Boonville girls basketball gives star player one last time in spotlight

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BOONVILLE - Basketball has been a huge part of Paige Renfrow's life since she was in grade school. It always came easy to her and it showed. Last season, as a junior, the Boonville forward was named to the all-state team. 

Looking to build on that campaign in her senior year, her plans pivoted. While scrimmaging against the Boonville freshman boys team, Paige planted on her leg while trying to make a play and went down.

"I was dribbling to the basket and I was doing a Euro move, and whenever I did, I just heard my knee snap and I knew it was my ACL," Paige said. 

An MRI confirmed Paige's fears, ending her senior season before it began, just two days before the season opener. This changed the way she made an impact on the team. 

"She’s a huge part of this team. Like I told her, her role is just changed for the team," head coach Jaryt Hunziker said,  "Going from one of the go-to players on offense and a good defender, she’s now not only a cheerleader, but an assistant coach."

Sitting on the bench all season long was new for Paige; she had started for the Lady Pirates since her freshman year. It appeared senior year would come and go for her without appearing in a game. With a little planning, that all changed. 

"I’ve always had the tradition of starting my seniors [on Senior Night]. Some of them, I might play quality minutes, some of them just might play a minute or two," coach Hunziker said. 

He held with tradition even though Paige had torn her ACL three months earlier. When the starting lineups were announced for the team's final home game against Marshall, Paige's No. 2 was called over the loud speakers one final time. 

"It was really important for me to say she was on the court, in a game, for the season," said Paula Renfrow, Paige's mother. 

"It brought back a lot of memories. It was sad and emotional. But I was happy that they did that for me," Paige said. 

Paige was put in, away from the ball, for the opening tipoff. Once possession was gained, officials called a timeout and Paige was removed for a sub. She walked off to a standing ovation. 

"She had a great career here. She did everything she set out to do," Paula said. 

One thing Paige didn't get to is the 1,000-point mark for her career. She was just 81 shy and surely would have surpassed that plateau early on in the season if she were healthy. 

Entering the district playoffs, the Lady Pirates are 21-2, even without their best player. Now, Paige, who was a sophomore when Boonville reached the state semifinals, hopes this team can win a state title. 

"Being able to be part of the team and also being able to be a part of their incredible season, of a winning season, has been great. I would be so happy for them [if they won a state title]," Paige said. 

That would be quite the sendoff. After playing this sport since grade school, even if she wasn't able to be on the court, like she was for a few precious seconds on Senior Night, winning a state championship would be as perfect an ending as possible in a season that began in such an imperfect way.