By: Cortney Brown
Getting off the court and through the long hallways to the plain white walls of the training room, a star player is hurt.
Brett Budke, a senior player for the Stillwater High School boys’ basketball team, was injured during the championship game at the Shawnee Tournament on Jan. 25.
Budke fell to the floor coming off a screen when his left kneecap buckled out from under him.
“My kneecap popped out of place,” Budke said. “I pretty much sprained my knee, and it hurts.”
The Pioneers ended up losing the championship game moments after Budke left the court in pain. Coach Michael Davis said he was expecting to win against Norman North in the tournament, but lost 78-57.
“With Brett out with an injury, I am not sure how the rest of the season will play out,” Davis said. “Losing a starter is not always a good thing.”
Budke is one of Davis starting players and averages 16 points a game. He is a captain and is a role model on the court.
Starting in nine games, he does not know whether he will be able to play again this season. He said he would be out at least six weeks.
Budke’s injury has Davis and other players on edge because the team is not use to having Budke not playing.
“It’s tough seeing my best friend not playing with me,” senior Carson Teel said. “But all these guys step up. It’s a challenge.”
Junior guard Brandon Prather replaced Budke at home game against Santa Fe on Jan. 28.
“Even with Budke hurt, you can’t just give up on the team,” Davis said. “I have a team full of players; one of them will work hard to earn the spot.”
The players are working hard at practice to win games. The Pioneers have won its game against Edmond Santa Fe, Bishop McGuiness, Enid and Bartlesville since Budke has been injured, and their record is 15-6.
“He scores 14 points a game,” Davis said. “We have been scoring good without him, but it’s different not seeing him on the court.”
Even though the team has won without Budke, his injury has affected the players’ attitude. The players said they miss Budke, but seeing him out on the side pushes them to play harder.
“It’s really hard to see him not play,” sophomore Jake Green said. “I am used to playing with him. But seeing him over there is just a motivation; you don’t want to let him down.”
With two games to go in the season, Budke is watching his teammates play the game he loves to play.
“I hate being injured,” Budke said. “I feel awful seeing everyone run and play while I just sit and watch.”
Budke is doing his best to be a part of the team and is not going to let his knee affect his skills for basketball. He sits and pays attention at practice, watching film and at games. He goes on the bus to the away games.
Budke said he hated it when he was hurt, but he is adjusting to it and finding ways to help his team. He is happy the team is winning and doing well.
During practice, Davis said Budke coaches players to play his position and coaches them as they play and tells them what they are doing wrong. He is not playing but is treated as if he were not injured.
“He’s very much involved,” Davis said. “The players look up to him and still look at him as a leader.”
Budke is working hard to heal and said he hopes to play at regionals. He went to his doctor a couple of days after his injury. Budke’s doctor said Budke did not need an MRI or physical therapy because he tore his kneecap tendon and that heals on its own. The doctor also said Budke could be released in two weeks if he keeps on track.
Budke did what the doctor told him to do. He has visited the athletic trainer every day for strengthen exercises. He has done balancing, leg lifts and quad squeezes. After his exercises, he ices his knee for 15 minutes.
Budke’s knee has been healing, and he is proud to say he can see an improvement.
“I can straight leg jog now and run stairs,” Budke said. “I am excited and it is a great feeling.”
Budke is taking it easy and starting to do small skills at practice so he does not lose his ballhandling skills. Budke said he likes to do small ballhandling drills such as under the legs and shoot around when he can and when Davis isn’t looking. Davis said a shooter does not know what a bad shot is.
“He is not supposed to be on the court,” Davis said. “But if I am not watching, he’s out there doing stuff he is not supposed to do.”
Budke has to be careful not to twist, jump, cut or anything that could pull the kneecap out of place and sit him out longer.
“Every game I watch makes me want to work harder,” Budke said. “And I am not letting pain block me from doing what I love.”
Even though Budke’s knee injury is healing, it is affecting him physically because he as not been able to condition. Davis said that was the worse part of Budke’s injury.
“I have not run or done anything,” Budke said. “I probably couldn’t run for two minutes before I start wheezing.”
Budke is not the guy to complain about his injury. He pushes through the pain because he wants to be back on the court. He said he is not nervous about playing basketball because it is his senior year and he has nothing to lose.
“He has no choice but to push through,” Davis said. “He is trying to get back on the court, so he isn’t going to say a whole lot about the pain.”