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Abernathy’s Love For Team Got Her Back on the Court

Photo by Kyle Lutz Wheeling Park’s Bella Abernathy’s determination helped her to play in the state tournament after her injury earlier in the season.

CHARLESTON — When the Wheeling Park girls basketball team walked off the Charleston Coliseum’s floor Thursday night after falling to Morgantown in the West Virginia Class AAAA state quarterfinals, it marked the end to a tremendous career for senior Bella Abernathy.

While it was not the end that she and the Patriots wanted, there are several things about Abernathy that will never be questioned. That is her heart, character, determination and motivation.

Abernathy, fractured her finger in late March and had to miss a handful of games near the end of the regular season. The initial thought was Abernathy was done for the year.

However, Abernathy was not going to take that as an answer. The senior showed her teammates and community what true leadership was. And when it came down to it, Abernathy was back playing for the Patriots two weeks later.

“I just love this team. So, I was just trying to do anything to get back even if I wasn’t 100%,” Abernathy said after the quarterfinal loss to Morgantown. “I just wanted to play one more time. This is my last year, so I was thinking to come down here, play as hard as I can and play for all my friends. I’ve been playing with them since like third grade. It just didn’t end the way we wanted to.”

Going into the state tournament, Abernathy was averaging 18.5 points per game for the Patriots while also grabbing eight rebounds.

She also scored 13 points against University in the regional co-final to help the Patriots punch their ticket to the state tournament.

The senior faced more adversity in Charleston. Picking up her second foul in 61 seconds of the game, Abernathy was forced to watch from the bench for the remainder of the quarter.

However, this adversity wasn’t even close to what she had faced this year. And her strong leadership off the court was just as strong as it was on the court.

With her back in the game in the second quarter, Abernathy led the charge for a Wheeling Park rally. And as the Patriots were down by as many as 16 in the game, Wheeling Park was able to cut it to a single possession on a couple of occasions in the fourth quarter.

Although Wheeling Park won’t be cutting down the nets, the mindset of Abernathy is exactly what success looks like.

“It’s amazing what she did. She could have said, ‘I can’t come back,'” Wheeling Park coach Ryan Young said. “The doctor told her it was going to be six weeks and she came back in two weeks. What she did in that time, she was focused on what we were doing as a team then going and working out on her own. Everything was about her coming back to this team. That just shows how much love you have for your friends and teammates. I’ve got a lot of respect for Bella.”

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