Emilie Ziese saw her senior basketball season flash before her eyes when a doctor said three simple letters: ACL.
In a game against West Central in January, the Rensselaer center jumped to pass the ball and landed awkwardly on her leg.
Not knowing what had happened, she was told not to lift her hopes too high, because she could have torn the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, signalling the end of her season.
Instead, tests showed a sprain of the ACL.
She sat out three games -- two losses and a close win -- then was slowly let back into games. She played a quarter against Kankakee Valley, then a half against Kouts.
By the time she played a full game against North Judson, she was back to her old self again with 11 points and eight rebounds.
"(The injury) freaked me out to be honest. We were so close to the end of the season, an ACL tear usually takes a year, so I'd be done," Ziese said.
"Once you have an injury, you have an appreciation to have that privilege to play basketball, to be a starter and a senior on our basketball team. It was a great feeling to come back."
What she took from the experience, the realization that every game could be your last, is what Bombers' coach Jeff Marlow hopes his team learns as the postseason continues.
Rensselaer won its sectional opener by one point and the title game by three.
Saturday, the Bombers meet Class 3A No. 4 Benton Central in one semifinal of the Rensselaer Regional.
"We always tell our kids you never know when will be your last game," Marlow said. "She plays now with an energy and a focus to play as hard every game because she knows what it feels like to be told it might be your last game."
Ziese's return sparked a resurgence for the Bombers. An emotional player already, the senior added to it when she came back to the floor.
"She plays the game with a passion, and you don't see a lot of kids have that passion in the girls game, at least outwardly," Marlow said. "She's always directing on the floor and telling her teammates where to be.
"She won't want to hear this, but it reminds me of how I played the game in high school. Her heart is on her sleeve, you can always tell when we're playing well."
Added Ziese: "When someone gives you an opportunity to do something, like play basketball, you're going to give 150 percent -- especially when I can hear my parents yelling at me, and the crowd yelling, everyone is hyped up and ready to go.
"So that hypes me up."
Local fans are expected in droves as the Bombers play in a regional on their home court for only the second time since 2004.
"It's not like we advance in the tournament every year, so this is going to be a new experience for them," Marlow said. "They're going to run out of that tunnel at 9:30 Saturday morning and it's going to be an experience and a rush they've never had before.
"Win or lose, they'll be able to tell their kids and grandkids they played in a regional on their home court, and there aren't a lot of people that can say that."