McALESTER — McAlester senior Austin Taylor is no stranger to injury. He suffered a broken ankle his junior year, missing much of the 2012-13 basketball season, but eventually recovered enough to participate in offseason basketball workouts and scrimmages.
At a summer-league game last June, Taylor injured the meniscus and anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee, and he’s been off the court ever since.
“I tore my MCL playing against Paris (Texas), and then came back and didn’t know I tore it,” Taylor said. “Tried to play on it a week later, and ended up tearing my MCL and my meniscus. ... I could walk on it and run on it, and I jumped and landed wrong and it just popped out on me.”
Taylor said he’s grown up in McAlester and played basketball since the first grade. He joined Tannehill’s basketball team in the third grade, playing with future Buffs teammates Eli Boyle and Zach Skimbo and making it to the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools state championship during Taylor’s seventh-grade year.
Taylor came to McAlester High School in the ninth grade. He said dealing with a much larger school wasn’t easy, but “basketball, it always came pretty naturally to me, so it really wasn’t that big a deal.”
After his freshman year, Taylor moved up to the junior varsity and began working with coach Chris Zike. Taylor had already known Zike from playing golf in the spring of his freshman year, and Taylor said he’s enjoyed having Zike take over the varsity basketball program this season.
“We’ve always been pretty good friends and (had) a student-teacher relationship,” Taylor said of Zike.
“We were a JV team playing for Coach Zike at Ardmore (two seasons ago), and we beat Ardmore by double digits at Ardmore. That was one of the first times that’s been done in awhile by McAlester teams.”