If Edmond Memorial coach Shane Cowherd had made the decision, Jordan Woodard wouldn't have been in uniform for the Class 6A state championship game.
Wouldn't have been on the court for the game-changing steal, or the game-winning tip-in at the buzzer that made the Bulldogs state champions.
Cowherd had watched his star point guard battle through the season with hamstring and knee injuries — the latter of which required arthroscopic surgery a few days ago. Cowherd knew the future Woodard had in front of him with the Oklahoma Sooners, and he saw how much pain his player was in.
“After the Owasso game in the semifinals, I told him I thought it was time to shut it down,” Cowherd said. “He looked at me. He teared up, choked up, and told me, ‘I've got one more high school game in me.'”
Woodard was a shell of himself athletically by the end, but he found ways to keep the Bulldogs going, while earning a spot on The Oklahoman's Super 5 first team.
“When you love the game, and you love winning, there's not too much that can get in the way of that,” Woodard said. “It was hard battling the injuries, but it helped me a lot, understanding how to persevere.”
The severe hamstring injury he played with was public knowledge, and it kept him out of several games. But the team kept his knee pain — which dated back to an injury suffered in his junior season — concealed to protect him. Compensating for the knee pain likely contributed to the hamstring injury.