Back to being a Bruin – Road to recovery makes season sweeter for Bear River’s Fry |

Back to being a Bruin – Road to recovery makes season sweeter for Bear River’s Fry

Julie Fry’s senior season began before her junior year at Bear River High School had come to an end.

Her final stint as a Bruin basketball player had to start so early because of the abrupt ending of her junior campaign, one that came to a halt as she fell in a heap to the hardwood floor at Galt High School last March.

The Bruins were still in the midst of their Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal showdown against St. Mary’s (Stockton) – a battle the Rams eventually won 59-43 – but Fry’s game, and season, was finished.

“I can’t really remember it. There was player on the three-point line and I went to get out and guard her,” Fry said. “I planted my foot and my body went one way and my knee went the other.

“It completely ripped. I could feel it and I could hear it.”

The most frustrating thing about it, the tearing of the anterior-cruciate ligament in her right knee, was that Fry had already once before suffered such an injury. She tore the ACL in her left knee, an injury had that robbed her of an entire freshman basketball season.

This time, though, she wasn’t about to let her latest injury take away her turn in leading the Bruins as a senior member of the Bear River program. After two years of relishing her role on the Bruin varsity team, she wasn’t about to let her last chance to shine in South County slip away.

“The one good thing about it was that she did it at the perfect time,” Bruin head coach Jeff Bickmore said of her injury. “It was our last playoff game, so she had the whole offseason to recover from it.”

After undergoing her second major knee surgery by the time she’d turned 17, Fry had the time to rehab, but she knew she had to get to work as soon as possible.

“I rehabbed the whole, entire summer,” she said. “I was just worried that I wasn’t going to be able to get back. And I knew this was my big year.”

By the time the Bruins held tryouts, she was ready to return and her teammates were happy to have her back, Bickmore said. It was an exciting time for Fry, who was facing a new season with a new coach – not to mention a newly-repaired knee.

“We played without her all summer and it was a struggle,” said Bickmore, who replaced Duwaine Ganskie as the Bruins head coach this winter. “We were hoping for the best, but we had to also kind of groom some of the other players just in case.”

In November, that “just in case” looked like a good move, as Fry discovered a large lump on her knee. Fortunately, she said, it was just one of the surgical screws that was implanted during the March surgery. Once it was removed, her senior season had clearance to finally commence.

And she hasn’t wasted the opportunity she has been afforded.

The Bear River girls basketball team, which just wrapped up its third-straight unbeaten season in Pioneer Valley League action – a 36-game win streak, heads into the D-III section playoffs on quite a roll having posted a 22-4 overall record, 12-0 in the PVL.

The Bruins have won 10 in a row – and 14 of their last 15- including an impressive 55-36 non-league win over Sierra (Manteca) in the Sacramento Challenge on Feb. 5. The Bruins have not lost since a 52-39 loss to McClatchy, a Division I team, on Jan. 22.

Fry’s performance, Bickmore said, has been paramount to that stretch of success. The 5-foot, 9-inch wing player is the second-leading scorer in the PVL, averaging 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.0 steals per game. She has scored 20 points or more five times, including a season-high 24 points she dropped on Presentation High School in the Reno Elite Eight Tournament in early December.

“You know, without her, we’d be going to the playoffs, but we wouldn’t be nearly as good as we are with her,” Bickmore said. “Without her, we don’t go undefeated in league and we don’t beat Placer.

“It’s just her poise and her leadership on the court. She can play all four positions. She can dribble, she can hit the three and she can post up. After playing without her all summer, it was so refreshing to have her back on the court.”

How long will she stay on the court? So far, she’s not looking beyond this season. Though she plans to attend Butte College next fall, she said she’s not sure that she’ll be on the floor when hoops season tips off.

“I don’t know,” she said, “I’m a little bit burned out, right now. I’ve never had the experience of not going to practice, not working out or not training for (an upcoming) season.

“I’m thinking about taking a year off. But I’d probably miss it too much and then want to be playing again.”

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