Healthy McQueen getting back to form

By Matt Hill

   MOUNTAIN CITY- Athletics usually bring glory to the participants, but sometimes it can deal great pain.
   Johnson County girls basketball player Andrea McQueen knows all about the hurt. The senior guard tore her ACL two years ago, but has now fully recovered from the injury.
   McQueen's career was one that seemed to be filled with promise, but the ACL injury was a difficult thing for her.
   "It was tough," McQueen said. "It was really hard, but I came back stronger and healthier. Since I've blown my knee there have been a few other people that have done it, and they've come back pretty strong. I had to work there for about four or five months. It was a rough comeback, but it's better than ever now. It feels good, and it never hurts me. I just feel like I'm stronger."
   McQueen's injury made her be very encouraging to other athletes at Johnson County who have had the ACL injury. Unfortunately, ACL injures seem to be a common occurrence at Johnson County High School, but McQueen knows what they're going through.
   "You know how it is, it's a painful experience," McQueen said. "I've talked to Adam (Leonard) some, and I feel sorry for him. He's had two now, and it's just really hard for him."
   McQueen bounced back pretty strong from the injury. She is the Longhorns leading returning scorer from last year's team.
   McQueen was a little bit surprised with how well she played.
   "In a way I was," McQueen said. "I figured I would be hindered someway. I figured I would be slower. I figured it would be tougher for me. The first of the season I could feel that I was slower, but as the season progressed I got stronger. I felt better about the way I was playing."
   With this being McQueen's senior season, she will be counted on for big things. As far as leadership goes, McQueen thinks that will be a team effort.
   "I guess every senior leads a little more," McQueen said. "All our players, we all encourage each other and uplift each other. Necessarily me being a leader, I don't see myself as one. Courtney (Shaw), Nikki (Davidson), Shanna (Phipps) and Elena (Owens) all help out a lot. Now we'll have Ryann Tillman as a freshman, and she'll need to have our leadership with her. It will help her a lot to have four seniors behind her and having
   Elena as a junior.
   McQueen is hoping for better results during the 2002-2003 season. The Longhorns finished seventh in the Watauga last year.
   McQueen pointed out that a big win over Volunteer late in the season gave them some confidence going into this campaign.
   "We played well against North and Volunteer in the last few games," McQueen said. "I'm just hoping we can go out there and play hard every game, and not have mental lapses and play together. Against Hampton in our last game, we just weren't with it. We didn't play well at all. That was our last game, and I'm hoping we can go into districts and show up at least this year."
   Rest assured that McQueen will be working hard to help the Longhorns improve that record. McQueen is known for her great shooting, and she puts hours of hard work into perfecting that shot.
   "I've worked on my shot for five years very hard," McQueen said. "Austin (Atwood) helped me get it going, and I've just worked every day. I shot this summer almost every day. When I shoot I try to work on my form, and I try to go slow and just work. It's not a hard thing to do. Austin always told me that shooters come a dime a dozen, but it's just the practice things that you have to do a lot."
   But no matter what this season has in store, McQueen is just glad to be playing basketball.
   Basketball is something that's dear to her heart, and all that she has been through made her appreciate this sport a whole lot more.
   "I never knew how much I missed it until I lost it," McQueen said.
   If she can stay injury free, look for McQueen's hard work and dedication to finally pay off during this basketball season.