EDMOND — Jordan Woodard wanted to be playing basketball in January.
But to make sure he was still healthy in March, the Edmond Memorial point guard had to sit on the sidelines.
The Oklahoma signee missed 11 games in his senior season, but his hamstring is fully healed as he and the Bulldogs try to win their second Class 6A state championship in the last three years.
“I didn't want to miss that many games my senior year,” said Woodard, who is averaging 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game for second-ranked Edmond Memorial. “But I feel like, as a team, it helped us a lot. There was a lot of frustration for me, not being able to be out there with my teammates.”
Edmond Memorial faces Broken Arrow at 7 p.m. Thursday at Oral Roberts University's Mabee Center in the first round of the 6A state tournament. The Bulldogs are among the top contenders, along with conference rival and No. 1-ranked Midwest City, in one of the deeper 6A fields in recent years.
Woodard missed a couple games in December, but reinjured the hamstring in his second game back. After that, he and the coaching staff vowed to get him fully healthy before he came back again.
The Bulldogs are working their way back to the top of their game since Woodard's return. He stayed engaged with the team during his injury, which enabled him to slide back in easily, not disrupting the chemistry.
And while he was out, several players were asked to do things they hadn't done before.
“Jordan is so talented that the guys had become over-reliant on him at times, which is a blessing and a curse,” coach Shane Cowherd said. “I think we're a better team now — and I hate that Jordan had to go through that injury for us to accomplish it — but I think we're a better team, because guys were able to gain confidence in their own abilities.”
Forward Shaquille Morris, a 6-foot-8 Wichita State signee, was pushed to be the star in Woodard's absence, while others, like Aaron Young and Sam Kreutzer, had to handle the ball more and be reliable players on the perimeter.
Woodard started on the Bulldogs' championship team as a sophomore in 2011, as he did with the runner-up team last year.
Now, he's just happy that he'll be able to play as his final state tournament arrives.
“Not being able to be out there playing was hard, but I was confident that the training staff would be able to get me back out there before playoff time,” Woodard said. “Right now is the time that it counts, and I'm healthy, so it's great.”