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Kenney winding up playing career in strong fashion

| Saturday, May 12, 2012, 5:43 p.m.

Unless Westminster College pulls some big upsets in the Presidents' Athletic Conference women's basketball tournament, Ashley Kenney's playing career will be over by week's end.

Kenney, who hopes to someday get into coaching, will miss being out on the court. She has no regrets, though.

"I don't know if my body would hold up any longer," she said with a laugh.

Kenney, a senior guard, is Westminster's second-leading scorer and one of the top offensive threats in the conference. But to get there, she had overcome a long list of injuries -- and three surgeries -- over the past three years.

The trouble began just a few months after Kenney graduated from Hempfield Area High School, when she sustained a stress fracture in her left foot during a workout. In late November, just as the college season was getting under way, she spent two weeks in bed recovering from mononucleosis.

Early in her sophomore season, Kenney broke her nose when she took an elbow to her face while fighting for a rebound. She needed two operations to repair the damage and played the rest of the year with an awkward plastic face shield that limited her vision on the court.

In the spring, Kenney was playing a pick-up soccer game when she collided with other players. The second, third and fifth metacarpal bones in her right hand had been snapped in half.

"That was an ugly one," she said.

Pins were surgically inserted in her shattered hand, and she wore a cast for six weeks. Then came months of rehabilitation that forced her to miss offseason workouts.

"I really struggled with my shot when I came back," Kenney said.

"She was really frustrated," Westminster coach Rosanne Scott said. "She very easily could have given up or slacked off (in rehab), but she kept fighting. She took those obstacles and overcame them."

The start of her junior season was delayed by a sprained left ankle. By the time the team returned from Christmas break, though, Kenney was playing well enough to finally break the starting lineup.

This year• Just the usual aches and pains that come from the rigors of a season. Kenney needs to stay healthy for a few more days -- long enough to see Westminster, which began this week with an 8-15 record, through the PAC playoffs.

"It's kind of funny," Kenney said. "Two of my friends, who also are seniors, have never been hurt during their careers. Now, they're sweating it out. They're saying, 'What if I get hurt now• That would be the end of my career.'

"The way I feel is, nothing is going to happen to me now. What else can happen• I try not to think about it anymore."

Kenney has made the most of her good health this season. She ranks 10th in the PAC in scoring (11.8 points per game), fourth in free-throw percentage (.781), seventh in steals (45 in 23 games), 10th in 3-point percentage (.233) and ninth in 3-pointers made (24 in 23 games).

"I'm a little surprised," Scott said. "I always knew Ashley had the ability to score, but this is the first year she really had to pick it up and do it. Defensively, she really has stepped up her intensity. That's what leaders do."

Kenney scored in double digits in eight of her first 12 games, including a pair of 23-point outings. Entering this week, however, she had tallied better than 10 points in just six of 11 games as Westminster made its second tour of the PAC schedule.

"It's hard to be consistent, but I'm trying," she said. "At the beginning of the year, it was easier. We were playing well, everyone was excited."

She paused and shrugged.

"Every season, you have to get over bumps and hills."

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