Justene Charlesworth

LaCrosse's Justene Charlesworth is among the local seniors who will play in Saturday's Region Strong All-Star Game at Calumet.

When Justene Charlesworth returned from a torn ACL and the subsequent surgery in February, it didn't mean the LaCrosse star was anywhere 100 percent.

Two months later, the recovery continues for the school's career scoring leader.

"I'm still not even close to there yet," Charlesworth said. "I hit it hard once the season ended. I'm only eight months out. It was pretty major surgery, so it's to be expected for the most part. I'm getting physical therapy with it. I'm icing it. I'm still in pain a lot of time. I wish it didn't hurt sometimes, but I came back in under six months, so I'm happy with my progression."

With the school year winding down, Charlesworth remains uncommitted on her college choice, listing Indiana Northwest, IU South Bend and Indiana Tech as her main options. The latter offered her just before her injury suffered toward the end of June and stayed true to their word afterward.

"I'm just making sure there are no coaching changes," she said.

Charlesworth's suitors can get another look at the 5-foot-8 guard and an array of other hoops talent Saturday afternoon when she participates in the Region Strong All-Star Game at Calumet High School where a contingent of Northwest Indiana seniors will face a group from Indianapolis.

"I'm super excited," she said. "There are a lot of good players from the Regon and from Indianapolis. I'll be going against some of the top players in the state."

The games, coordinated by Circle of Men Athletics, are in their second year, and expanding the rosters to include a larger sector of Northwest Indiana was a priority for Leroy Cooper Jr. The local teams include players from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, headlined by Merrillville's Johnny Bernard and E.C. Central's Jenasae Bishop.

"It's about bringing all of the Region together," Cooper said.

Last year's initial experience helped Cooper from an organizational standpoint. The Indianapolis boys team, which showed up with just six players, will have a full roster this time, headlined by Purdue commit Eric Hunter of Indianapolis Tindley. The middle school game has been replaced by a Rising Stars game featuring some of the better pre-high school AAU talent from NWI. That will lead off the afternoon of activity, followed by 3-point and dunk contests and the senior games.

Three days after the game, Charlesworth will be running in her first track meet since the injury. She missed her senior cross country season as a result.

"I'll probably be very frustrated," she said. "I'm not going to be where I was before. I wish I was in a little better shape, but I know I'm better off than a lot of people. Everybody's circumstances are different."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at james.peters@nwi.com.


Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.