Four-year starter sidelined by stress fracture
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Central Catholic.
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Stress fractures are one of the most frustrating injuries athletes sustain, because the pain associated with them can sometimes camouflage itself.
Central Catholic senior Tony Lewis knows the phenomenon too well. After several weeks of avoiding physical activity ordered by his doctor, Timothy Palomera, the 6-foot-10 center thought he might finally have a chance to author a great finish to his senior year.
Lewis went through warmups against archrival Antonian Feb. 5 at Paul Taylor Gym without feeling any twinges in his left foot. By halftime, though, he realized that his four-year career on the Buttons’ varsity had ended.
“I just wanted to play through it – that’s my competitive nature,” Lewis said. “Before I went to play (Antonian) Dr. Palomera told me that it was 95 percent healed, but there was a microscopic crack in it. He told me there was a slim chance I’d aggravate it.
“In warmups, I was feeling good but I hadn’t tested it. So I went up and came down kind of awkwardly. I stumbled a little bit, and that’s when the pain came back.”
The stress fracture has limited to about four games worth of playing time this season. He had shut all activity down after playing the first half of a Nov. 29 game at Clemens. Despite the injury, Lewis produced a respectable 11.8 scoring average.
Fortunately for the 265-pound post, he signed a National Letter of Intent in November to play at the University of Santa Clara. Lewis visited North Texas and Weber State University before deciding upon the San Francisco-area NCAA Division I college.
He had also planned to visit Washington State University and the University of New Mexico. He felt a bit of a pull toward North Texas because his next-door neighbor, Madison standout JaMichael Brown, will matriculate there next year. But Lewis had an inescapable feeling about Santa Clara, reinforced by his contact with seemingly everyone associated with the basketball team during his recruiting visit.
“I told my mother I’m probably going to go to this school,” Lewis said. “It’s a small campus, like centrla Catholic, but it’s big enough. What really stuck with me was that (the team) is like a brotherhood. That’s something we talk about all the time at Central Catholic.”
After he’d committed, Lewis said Texas-El Paso and the University of Florida also expressed their interest, but he followed his mother, Dawn Lewis’ direction.
“One thing my parents really drilled me on was that,” Lewis said, “if you commit to something, finish it out.”
Second-year Central Catholic coach Bruce McConaghy believes his center has the tools to succeed at the next level.
“Tony has great hands and great feet,” McConaghy said. “I think he’ll develop in those four years, and there’s no telling what he can do. He’s going to mature and grow. He has a big upside.”
Lewis was 6-7 when he arrived at Central Catholic as part of a banner class that included Jordan Murphy (Brennan), Jorden Kite (Clark), A.J. Carr (Hagerstown (Md.) St. James) and Jonah Mahone (Smithson Valley). Only he remains as they others have scattered to the four winds and become standouts at their new programs.
In his time with the Buttons, Lewis has greatly improved his post-up game, defense, aggressiveness and ability to run the court under the tutelage of assistant coach Reggie Clark.
He had a team-best 13.8 scoring average as the 2013-14 Buttons posted a 25-8 record and won TAPPS District 2-5A.
“The biggest thing we’ve worked on is his conditioning and his play inside,” McConaghy said. “Reggie works with him every day at practice for 15-20 minutes.”
Lewis has high aspirations for his future.
“I’m a confident guy,” he said. “If you put something in front of me, I’m going to do everything I can to get better and (achieve it).”
He finds it gratifying that Central Catholic is 19-15 this season without its big man, after adapting to a more uptempo style.
“At the beginning of the year, I was really skeptical about how this season would play out,” Lewis said. “To see what’s happened, especially the younger guys like Julian Rodriguez growing up, has been a lot of fun.”
MORE TO COME
TONY LEWIS CAREER STATS
Season Total pts. Scoring avg.
2011-12 76 4.5
2012-13 334 11.5
2013-14 427 13.8
2014-15 71 11.8
Total points 908 10.9