Thursday, January 4, 2001
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs guard Jeff Aragon isn't about to let an injury to his shooting hand keep him from missing a game or from making a steal for that matter. That especially holds true tonight, when his undefeated Sailors enter their first league game of the season against the Palisade Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. at home.
The boys game, which is preceded by the girls game at 6 p.m., pairs the 7-0 Sailors against the 5-2 Bulldogs.
Aragon, who averages six points and 2.3 steals per game, tore ligaments in his right thumb against Grand Junction Central Dec. 8. Despite suffering the injury, Aragon's game is still intact. He made five free throws and had two steals in the final moments against Hotchkiss that helped to seal a 62-58 win during the Steamboat Shoot-Out.
Against Central, he dove for a loose ball just before halftime, and during the play, he banged his hand against one of the Warriors' player's feet and his thumb bent backward.
A couple of days later, Aragon was told by his doctor he had ligament damage. He was advised to tape the thumb if he still wished to continue playing this season.
But Aragon won't tape the thumb, he says, because that would only hinder his game.
Instead, the player ices his hand as much as possible and applies heat to it for a 10-minute period before every game.
"A couple more weeks and it should be fine," said Aragon, whose perseverance on the court since the injury has caught the attention of coach Kelly Meek.
"He's a tough kid," Meek said. "He's tough mentally and so he can play through that pain.
"He shot really well (at practice) last night and stroked (his shot) really good."
Aragon said his thumb becomes painful when he is not out on the court. Because during games, he said, the pain is forgotten when the adrenaline starts running.
"When I'm really pumped up and ready to go, I don't even feel it," Aragon said. "I just want to play."
Aragon and his teammates have an opportunity tonight to win their first conference game if they can stop Palisade's scoring leader Garrett Swank, who averages close to 20 points per game.
"I think our defense, especially against their guards, is really going to be key," Aragon said. "That's the main key, putting a lot of pressure on them."