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Andee Ritter, a standout on the top-ranked South Medford girls basketball team, will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
Ritter suffered the injury in Tuesday's 77-30 win over Roseburg.
She originally hurt the knee in a game in California on Jan. 18. It was diagnosed as a meniscus sprain but no MRI was taken.
After missing two contests, she returned to action in the Southern Oregon Hybrid game this week. With 4:33 to go in the third quarter, the junior stole the ball, raced up the court for a shot and landed awkwardly, re-aggravating the knee.
Ritter, a 6-foot guard, had an MRI Thursday morning, said South Medford coach Tom Cole, and learned of the results that evening.
"We found out today," said Cole. "Clearly, she's done for the season. It's pretty devastating to her and it's devastating to us as a team to lose her. She's one of our best players and someone who possesses a great deal of leadership."
Cole spoke with Ritter and her parents after learning the news.
"In hindsight," said Cole, "we all look back and wish we had an MRI done immediately (after the injury Jan. 18). ... We should have had more accurate information on the full scope of the injury.
"Everybody wanted the best, but optimism doesn't necessarily trump reality."
With the diagnosis of a sprain and the knee responding to treatment, Ritter was given the go-ahead to return to action, he said.
Ritter will have a follow-up appointment next week and a time frame for surgery and recovery will be mapped out.
The Panthers are 14-3 overall and 4-0 in the SOH.
Ritter averaged 13 points per game and is among the conference's leading scorers. She's being recruited by NCAA Division I programs.
Lauren Orndoff, a 5-10 freshman, started in her place recently.
"She's done some really good things for us," said Cole, "yet she's a freshman, and there's a learning curve that comes with that. It's pretty tough shoes for anyone to fill, much less a freshman."
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org