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Harris rebounds to close out stellar career
By Chaz Amidon

Marcia HarrisAn ACL tear on Feb. 24, 2007 could have ended Marcia Harris’ career. It could have ended when she suffered a meniscus tear in the same knee last summer. Or when it tore again back on Dec. 30.  

But after each setback, Harris returned as the Knights’ keystone player, her abilities unaffected. She finished her senior season by averaging 17.9 points, capping four illustrious years where she became Calvin’s second all-time leading scorer (1,550 points).

“It shows a lot of determination and heart and dedication to the sport she loved,” said Calvin head coach John Ross. “There’s a lot of drive in Marcia.”

Harris, a product of Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian High School, chose to play for a burgeoning Calvin squad, then centered around Lisa Winkle, Calvin’s all-time scoring leader (1,721 points).

The pair was nearly unstoppable. The Knights went 53-8 through Harris’ first two seasons and made an Elite Eight appearance in the 2007 NCAA III Tournament.

Then, a roadblock. In the final minutes of the 2007 MIAA tournament championship game, Harris’ knee buckled, and a sharp pain ran through her knee. The ACL tear required reconstructive surgery.

“I had never been injured before, never,” said Harris. “Maybe a sprained ankle, if that. I’ve felt all the repercussions on my body since then.”

Marcia Harris head shotShe did play the entirety of the 2007-08 season, pouring in a career-best 18.0 points-per-game, but the Knights cobbled together a 15-9 record and were eliminated in the first round of the MIAA tournament.

Harris underwent arthroscopic surgery after she tore a meniscus the following summer, and was pegged to be a preseason All-American by before the start of the 2008-09 campaign. But in December, she fell again. And the Knights fell, too, dropping three straight conference games for the first time since 2002-03.

Harris remained sidelined for nine games as the Knights slid in the league standings, idling in fifth place. Her status changed daily, and, at one point, was doubtful she would return at all. But on Feb. 7, she did.

In Adrian, Calvin trailed the fourth-place Bulldogs early in the first half when Harris stepped onto the hardwood for the first time in nearly two months.

“I thought, ‘I’m slow, I can’t move,’” said Harris. “I felt like I was in slow motion. But it was like riding a bike — you might fall at first when you get back on it, but finally you just start going.”

Soon, Harris found her niche. She went on to total a game-high 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting. And she did it all in just 16 minutes of playing time.

“As an offensive player, she’s as good as they come at the Division III level,” said Ross. “She can score facing the basket; she can get out on the break and score with her back to the basket, even get out and knock down 15- to 18-footers.”

The Adrian win spurred a five-game winning streak for the Knights before they lost their regular season finale to Hope.

The Knights faltered in the MIAA tournament semifinals to Saint Mary’s, but ended the year by winning six of their last eight.

“When I came back from injury, there was a lot less pressure because everybody knew they could win without me,” said Harris. “I began to think that maybe my injury was one of the best things that could happen to us. It got everybody to step up. I think we’re in a much better place because of it, especially for next year.”

Among Harris’ best moments of her final season were her last-minute heroics against Trine on Feb. 18. With 36 seconds left in regulation, Harris banked in a seven-footer from an impossible angle while drawing a foul. She connected on the free throw, and the Knights solidified a third-place finish in the MIAA.

“Had she stayed healthy, she could have been close to 2,000 points,” said Ross. “She could flat-out score.”

Harris will graduate in May with a B.S. in psychology with plans to attend graduate school.

Read about Marcia Harris and Brook Van Eck named to All-MIAA team.