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Chartiers Valler's Tuite making return after knee injury

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | for the Signal Item
Senior guard Jerrad Tuite is averaging over 18 points per game for Chartiers Valley.

A knee injury didn't just cost Jerrad Tuite playing time – it changed his life for more than a year as he is still feeling the effects.

On Dec. 15, 2012, the Chartiers Valley played Anchorage Christian (Alaska) in its final game at the KSA Classic Tournament in Orlando. Tuite broke away on a fast-break opportunity but was clipped from behind by an opposing player.

The blow broke Tuite's kneecap in half.

“Half went through my shin and the other half went through my thigh,” the senior said. “My whole body went into shock. My leg was stuck. I couldn't move it. I knew something was wrong.”

Tuite had surgery where doctors put wires through his knee to reconnect it.

“I went back a week later and unfortunately the wire came undone,” Tuite said. “So I had to have surgery a second time.

“That time they put two screws in the wiring through that. That seemed to do the trick.”

While the second surgery was a success, it was only the beginning of Tuite's long road back to health.

“I had to learn to walk again,” the point guard said. “I had to learn to move my leg again and to bend it and how to sit in a chair. After all that, I started running, cutting and moving side to side.”

While Tuite was healing on the sidelines – doctors thought the process could last a year or more – the Colts went on a run to the WPIAL Class AAA title game and reached the PIAA quarterfinals while compiling a 24-5 record.

“That was almost as tough as the injury,” Tuite said. “Not being able to be out there to help my team was tough.”

Tuite was cleared to play in late July and got to work in August to get into playing shape. The transition wasn't easy as the Colts have looked to pick up the pace this season in a high-octane style of play that is averaging 73.5 points per game – second in Class AAA behind Uniontown's 75.8.

Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell noticed some rust heading into the season.

“He is slowly but surely getting better,” McConnell said. “If you asked me before the season started, I would have guessed he wouldn't be ready. I saw him limping pretty bad. But we have seen progression out of him.

“He has worked to get back into playing shape from an injury they said could keep him out a year.”

Tuite – who is still rehabbing the injury – is second on the team in points per game with 18.8, behind only junior guard Matty McConnell's 20.6.

He is also leading the team in assists (17) and made free throws (19) with a made free-throw percentage of 83.

Tuite said he doesn't worry about what the final stats says as long as the Colts (6-0) walk away with a win.

“I do what I need to do for the team,” Tuite said. “If I need to score, I'll score. If I need to pass, I will pass. I want to do what the team needs.

“I like all the guys on the team. We are a very unselfish bunch. It doesn't matter who scores as long as we are scoring and winning. That is all that matters.”

Tuite joined the Chartiers Valley squad as a sophomore and would go on to score an average of 8.4 ppg while recording 41 assists and 36 steals. He played his freshman season at Baldwin.

McConnell praised Tuite's ability as a point guard, whether it is his ball handling, shooting, quickness or ability to run the Colts' offense.

“He is hard to guard,” McConnell said. “Once he gets open, defenders help and he kicks out to our shooters.”

And while the injury cost him a season, it may have granted him a new perspective on the game.

“He saw it can be taken away in an instant,” McConnell said. “I think he realized how special of a chance he has and is taking advantage of it and is playing really hard.

“It is a testament to him how hard he has worked to come back.”

The Colts return to action tomorrow as they host Montour for a 7:30 p.m. tip.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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