Sitting out one year from basketball was bad enough for Nina Gregory.
But missing two seasons?
That was the bad news delivered by a doctor to the ex-Clovis East High standout, who almost gave up the game after ACL surgery near the start of her college career at Fresno City.
Through dedication to her rehabilitation and her own power of persuasion, that didn't happen and the 5-foot-10 shooting guard will help lead the Central Valley Conference champion and second-seeded Rams (26-3) against No. 15 seed Laney on Saturday in their opening game of the Northern California Regional playoffs.
But there was that moment she almost stepped off the comeback trail.
Turn the clock back a couple of seasons, when Gregory suffered what she figured was a relatively minor knee injury in her final high school season of 2010-11. She and the Rams decided she should sit out a year, allowing her time to strengthen the joint.
Then she tweaked the knee during a practice and the full extent of what was wrong became known.
The MRI revealed not only a newly torn meniscus but also an ACL tear they believe she suffered at Clovis East. By the time she had surgery, it was spring 2012.
"My doctor kept telling me I wouldn't get cleared until January or February" of 2013, she said. "I wasn't sure I could sit out another year and watch from the sidelines.
"It was hard enough for a year, and two years just seemed too much."
So her initial response was to decide it was time to stop playing. As Gregory recalls, it got "really emotional" and she instead pushed for a quicker path back to the court.
"I told my doctor that I didn't want to sit out two seasons and how much I needed it."
But first Gregory had someone else to convince -- longtime Fresno City coach Brian Tessler.
"She really didn't get into the gym at all until the middle of summer," said Tessler, now in his seventh year with the Rams. "I just think at the time she (was unsure) that basketball was her thing."
Gregory asked for a "second chance" to change that impression and Tessler said yes.
Next order of business was to get cleared by her doctor. After some long hours and days of rehab, it wound up happening in time for the 2012-13 season.
"I don't think I would appreciate the opportunity I've had to play for Tessler like I do if I hadn't gone through all of this," Gregory said. "I couldn't stand being away."
Gregory played in 34 games a year ago, all as a reserve, and averaged about 3.5 points on 32% shooting.
This season, now fully healthy, her scoring average jumped to 11.5 overall in 29 games and 12.7 in conference play. She still comes off the bench, but led the CVC in 3-pointers with 40 on 38% shooting and was named all-conference and third team All-NorCal.
"After getting injured I wasn't sure I would ever get back to full strength and be able to compete and contribute at this level," Gregory said. "I believed that (the knee) would just give out on me like it had in the past. But now I don't even think twice about it. I don't even feel like I ever had an injury."
Tessler, after his initial doubts were assuaged, was not surprised at how Gregory bounced back.
"She's been playing well all year," he said. "She's really focused."
Gregory believes in her team's chances this postseason.
"I think we have a great chance to make it to the state tournament and win it all," she said. "Of the years I've been at City, this is one of the best chances I think we have had because when we play together and play well, we can play with anyone in the state."
JC BASKETBALL: NORCAL REGIONAL AT FRESNO CITY COLLEGE
Women: 5:30 p.m. No. 15 Laney (14-13) at No. 2 Rams (26-3)
Men: 7:30 p.m. No. 15 Foothill (15-12) at No. 2 Rams (28-2)
Tickets: $10 adults, $7 students and seniors
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