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Kenmore West High School's Price back in the game

KENMORE WEST - Deep down inside, Alex Price knew that sooner or later, he’d be back in the game.

A Kenmore West junior, Price is all smiles as he enjoys his first full season of varsity basketball with the Blue Devils.

But just a little over two months ago Price’s basketball season, and his entire athletic career, were in grave jeopardy.

In the dying seconds of the Battle of Kenmore football game played on Oct .13 Price hit the line hard, then collapsed to the grass.

A hush fell over the crowd as Price was laying motionless on the grass for roughly 20 minutes before eventually being carted off the field on a stretcher.

“It was very frightening,” Price said.”I actually thought my career was over with for basketball and football, and I really wanted to play basketball.”

The injury resulted in a bone-chip in his neck that required Price to wear a neck brace for several days. Price was initially told by a neurosurgeon that the injury would prevent him from playing basketball this season. Crushed at the prospect of a summer of hard work going down the drain, it was a second opinion that gave Price the green light to play.

“I got a second opinion from a sports doctor and he cleared me and I was just so happy that I played the first game,” Price said. “My heart was back into basketball.”

No longer thinking about the injury Price said he is focused on playing basketball and doing what he can to help the Blue Devils.

Obviously concerned for Price’s overall well-being, Blue Devils coach Mike Meetze was overjoyed to see Price return to action with a clean bill of health.

“When he got cleared what a huge boost for him coming back because for a while it was a little touch-and-go,” Meetze said. “(We thought) the poor kid worked his tail off and he’s never gonna play sports again. He got doctors clearance and he’s really been a boost for us. He makes us that much stronger.”

Now serving as the Blue Devils starting point guard, Price had the chops to make varsity last season.

But sitting behind Martin Bailey on depth chart, Price remained on JV and got that all important experience.

Price was far from bitter about having to wait his turn. He understood that playing on JV would pay off down the line in more ways than one.

“I would have touched the ball on varsity but not really like I did on JV. On JV I became a leader,” Price said. “I really started focusing on basketball. My freshman year I really wasn’t that good...But (last year) I had the ball in my hands all the time on JV. And when I came up to varsity I had 15 points my first game. I dunno, basketball just comes naturally.”

A late season call-up Price was with varsity the last four games of the season in 2011-12. Though he didn’t see the floor a great deal, just watching and practicing with Bailey, who ironically enough was also ahead of Price on the football depth chart as well, proved beneficial for Price.

“I learned a lot actually,” Price said. “He’s hard working, he was a leader. I got my leadership (skills) from him. He’s a great leader. He played point guard just like me so I used to watch him and develop my skills.”

Teammate Quinton Campbell, who shares the same passion for hoops as Price, said Alex just brings a natural leadership quality.

“He’s a good guy all-around,” Campbell said. “He just wants to come play ball, he works hard everyday. That’s what we like about him.”

Knowing his peers not only admire his ability but also respect him as a natural leader fills Price with pride.

“I appreciate it a lot. If you want to be a good team, you have to be a good leader,” Price said. “You have to be the man on the court. On the football field, In school,period. You just have to have that leadership type of (mentality). I’ve been a leader all my life.”

A slick ball-handler who can push the ball up court and kick in on the offensive side of the game, what stands out most about Price is his non-stop smile. Does he want to win? Absolutely. More than you’ll ever know.

But at the heart of it all is Alex Price’s love of the game and of life.

“That’s very important to us,” Campbell said,”because everybody needs that type of guy. If everybody is having a down day he comes in, makes a joke or something and makes the team feel good and gets us back on track.”

Price is also very mindful that when he hits the playing field he is representing his school and that athletes in younger grades are looking at him as a role model.

“It’s just a great feeling,” Price said with a smile.”I really don’t know how to explain it’s just a great feeling playing varsity basketball for your school and being a leader.”

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