MIDWEST CITY — Hard to say whether Midwest City's Marisha Wallace has had the greatest of basketball fortunes or worst. Well, you could say both, actually.
The downside: Six games into last season, Wallace suffered a knee injury about as awful as they come. Torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Torn MCL (medial collateral ligament). Torn LCL (lateral collateral ligament).
In other words, she blew out three of the four ligaments critical to stability of the knee (her posterior cruciate ligament stayed intact).
The upside: Wallace has been on two teams which have won state championships and her teams have reached the state final in every season of her career. And with Midwest City being ranked No. 1, undefeated and the heavy favorite to win a second-consecutive state crown, Wallace seems a decent bet to see the state championship game in four straight seasons and could end her career with three state titles.
“Yes, sir, that's the plan,” said Wallace, The Oklahoman's player of the week after scoring a game-high 20 points to lead Midwest City past rival Del City Friday night. “I feel real lucky. Especially since I didn't start playing basketball until my freshman year.”
And she couldn't have picked a better year to begin. After spending time training with former NBA player Prince Bridges in the eighth grade, Wallace debuted at Millwood in 2008, and the Falcons won the Class 3A gold ball. Her sophomore season at Millwood also ended in the final, a loss to Adair.
“Then I felt like the best thing for me would be a change,” said the 6-2 post player. “I felt like I was slacking off more than I should and I wanted more of a challenge. I liked Midwest City because of the academics and basketball. Both are tough. So, we moved there (before Wallace's junior season) and I felt like I fit right in from the very start.”
For good reason, it was a perfect fit. When Wallace joined the Bombers they were coming off a season in which they reached the Class 6A title game. She gave MWC its fourth player that stood six-foot or taller. And just like the other Bomber skyscrapers, such as University of Oklahoma signee Kaylon Williams, Wallace isn't just tall — she's athletic.
“She gives us a lot of freedom with what we can do with our (taller) girls,” said Midwest City coach Art Bode. “Usually, in high school, if you're six-foot, coaches make you a post. But that might not be the position you will play in college. With Marisha and our other girls, we can spread our big girls outside and do different things with them and get them ready for the next level.”
Wallace, who scored a career-high 25 points earlier this season against Edmond Memorial, is primed to head to the next level, even though the brutal knee injury last year could not have come at a worse time recruiting-wise.
“It was a game against Norman North,” she said. “I went up for a layup and I pivoted but my foot stayed planted on the ground and my knee just snapped. It hurt like someone took a hammer and smashed it into my knee.”
Eight months of rehab allowed Wallace to return in October. But she missed out on AAU ball in the summer, when recruiters flock to tournaments.
“Because of the injury, Marisha hasn't gotten the attention she would have,” said Bode. “But this season, people are noticing in a hurry. When we went to our (out-of-state tournaments) I had recruiters asking me, ‘Who's that girl?'”
Wallace is averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season. Of course, considering that Midwest City routinely blows out foes, she rarely sees more than three quarters of a game. Plus, the Bombers are so loaded with talent, stats get spread out amongst a host of standouts.
“I've had some bad luck, but more good luck,” said Wallace. “I really feel good about where I am and where things are going.”
Boys Basketball Player of the Week
RYAN SPANGLER, BRIDGE CREEK
Spangler, who has signed with Gonzaga, recorded his third triple-double of the season in leading Class 4A No. 4 Bridge Creek to three wins last week to keep the Bobcats undefeated at 12-0. He averaged 32.3 points, 15.7 rebounds and 5.3 blocks per game. In a 91-74 win over Crooked Oak on Friday, Spangler had 42 points, 19 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.
By Scott Wright