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How Demetria Prewitt overcame injury, setbacks to orchestrate comeback season

David DeOrnellis | Wisconsin State Journal

Demetria Prewitt’s basketball dreams seemed to come to a halt.

The Madison La Follette player grinded through an 11-month rehab program for a torn ACL she suffered while competing in an AAU game in July 2019.

That was then, this is now.

She’s playing in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Games at Justagame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Wednesday — the date of her 18th birthday. The girls portion starts at 9 a.m., with Prewitt competing in the Division 1 game at 5 p.m.

And she’s competing four weeks to the day after being named the Madison Sportswoman of the Year at the 59th annual Madison Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on June 1.

She’s come a long way in the past three years.

Prewitt had ACL surgery in October 2019. She spent time in the gym, gutting through set after set of leg presses, extensions and curls to get the strength and mobility back in the damaged knee. She spent hours on the court practicing what basketball drills she could, with her eyes set on a return for her junior season.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck. She wondered if she’d ever have the opportunity to return to the sport she loves so much.

“It was a very difficult time for me. So it’s just like setback after setback and I was just going through a lot of mental challenges,” Prewitt said.

The team entered the 2020-2021 season knowing the first half of the season was lost. There was word the second half of the season might be on the table. Prewitt and her teammates took things into their own hands to stay prepared should the city of Madison approve the return of organized sports and activities in 2021.

Much like the rest of the world, the Lancers girls team took to Zoom. Instead of business meetings, the girls were in the business of accountability. They held intense workouts twice a week remotely along with dribbling drills at home — anything to ensure they’d be prepared if they had a season.

But the 2020-2021 season was canceled entirely.

“I was feeling a lot of sadness, a lot of bad luck. I feel like me and my team, we don’t have the best of luck,” Prewitt said. “So it felt like just another thing that was coming to try and push us down.”

Finally came time for Prewitt to suit up again. The Lancers faced Sun Prairie on Nov. 23, 2021, in a road game to open the season.

“It was so overwhelming, but I thought it was very exciting as well,” Prewitt said. “It was such a long time and I was anxious because I didn’t know what I was gonna be like coming back to La Follette where I’m the point guard — everything falls on me.”

There was the expected rust as Prewitt went 1-for-15 from the field. She made up for it at the line, going 18-for-20 on free throws. She posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds in a 64-49 loss.

In Prewitt’s eyes, the setbacks and disappointments only set her up for her success this past season. She set the team record for points in a single season (413), breaking the previous mark of 350 set by Ann Cooley in 1986. She helped the Lancers to a 14-8 record and a trip to the regional finals, averaging 18.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Prewitt didn’t expect this season to go the way it did. She recalled her father telling her prior to the season how she’d have to play well to get the recognition she deserved after two years away. The senior wondered how she’d be able to do that.

“It makes me that much more proud of myself. I recognize now this injury and COVID and all these setbacks made me the better person that I am today and also a better player,” Prewitt said.

Prewitt intends to play in the fall at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa — a Division 2 school in the NJCAA. The Eagles are coming off their eighth national title and are led by coach Kim Muhl.

This content was originally published by the Wisconsin State Journal on June 30, 2022. To view the full story on their website, please click here.

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