Coming back from an injury is never easy.
It requires an immense amount of hard work and determination, not to mention all the hours spent in physical therapy and rehab.
And Wayne Country Day’s Ja’Kea Brunson was willing to do whatever it took to get back on the basketball after her injury.
The junior tore her Achilles while playing for Team Curry. She had surgery and then started her journey to get back on the court.
“I had surgery on May 24th. I go to physical therapy in Goldsboro or Greenville four days a week. Then I’m working out at 5:30 in the morning, then going to practice, and sometimes I work out after practice just trying to get back those reps that I missed.”
Brunson made her triumphant return to the court earlier this season. It was an emotional experience and a special moment for Brunson.
“It meant the world,” Brunson said. “I literally cried when coach told me I was playing. Something just dropped out of my chest because it felt like forever.
“It really felt good to get back on the court and play with my teammates.”
With Brunson back, the sky is the limit for the Chargers, who have been in contention for a state title every year Brunson has been on the roster.
She joined the Chargers’ varsity squad as an eighth-grader, quickly impacting the team. Brunson averaged 11.2 points per game. The Chargers went 22-3 and reached the NCISAA 2A semifinals.
As a freshman, she averaged 19.4 points per game. The Chargers had a 23-5 record and once again made it to the semifinals.
Last season, as a sophomore, Brunson averaged 22.7 points per game, and the Chargers made it the semifinals for the third year in a row,
“It’s good seeing new girls come,” Brunson said. “I’ve been a leader since my sophomore year, and I feel good that my coach and the staff trust me enough to be a leader.”
Brunson has already had some big moments for the Chargers this season. In a game against Wayne Christian earlier this season, Brunson knocked down six three-pointers and led the Chargers to a 62-49 victory.
“I liked the intensity, I liked the crowd that came out, and it was different because I felt the need to show everybody that I’m back,” Brunson said.
Brunson’s biggest goal this season was to get back on the court. Now that she has accomplished that goal. She is turning her attention to leading the Chargers to another deep playoff run and hopefully making some history along the way.
“Outside of coming back, I’d like to hit 2,000 points because I’m probably around 1,300-1,400 right now, so hitting that before junior year ends,” Brunson said.