MISSOULA — Kayleigh Valley’s return to the basketball court after suffering a season-ending knee injury last October has come to an end.
Valley reinjured the same knee at Montana’s practice on Friday morning. The extent of the injury was confirmed by MRI on Tuesday. The injury occurred within days of the one-year anniversary of her original injury.
“We’re all just brokenhearted for Kayleigh,” said Lady Griz coach Shannon Schweyen. “She did everything right in the process of coming back. She didn’t push it. She waited almost a full calendar year and tested great. She’ll be able to look back and not have any regrets about the way she approached coming back to be on the floor for the Lady Griz.”
Valley had one of the best individual seasons in program and Big Sky Conference history as a junior in 2015-16. She was voted unanimous first-team All-Big Sky after leading the league in scoring at 21.9 points per game.
She scored 678 points to break her coach’s single-season program record of 668 that had stood since 1990-91. It was the third-highest total in league history.
“I truly believe she was one of the most prolific players in Big Sky Conference history,” said Schweyen. “What she did her junior year was a glimpse of what everyone was hoping to see more of. She was so difficult to guard with her ability to play inside and outside, and her strength around the basket.
“She is one of those special players who made her mark in Lady Griz fans’ hearts. She is a wonderful person with a lot going for her. We’re going to miss her leadership and play immensely.”
Valley tore her ACL the first time last Oct. 10, just days before she was going to be announced as the Big Sky preseason MVP. She had surgery on Oct. 31 and spent the next 11 months rehabbing and returning to full health.
She was given full medical clearance by her doctor in late July, nine months after surgery. She has a chance to apply for a medical hardship waiver and play one more season, if she wants to.
“I want to thank everyone for their continued love and support throughout this process,” said Valley, who graduated in May with a management degree. She will add a marketing degree next May.
“And I want to thank all the fans for sticking with this program through all the ups and downs.”