Peñasco senior Jennifer Aguilar was hospitalized for two nights following a violent collision on the floor during the Panthers’ game Thursday at Escalante.
The collision at the start of the fourth quarter sent Aguilar in convulsions and left her unconscious for more than a half minute, said Panthers coach Mandy Montoya.
At that point, she told her athletic director she was vacating the remainder of the game trailing 43-35.
The game was physical throughout, so much so that Montoya picked up a technical foul midway through the third quarter as she protested the way was the game was going.
And to start the fourth quarter, Aguilar made a steal and was going down the court in transition when she “got blindsided with a shoulder check,” Montoya said. “When she was in the air she tries to land and another one of their kids who couldn’t stop running runs into her. The knee goes to her head and she twisted backwards.”
The second collision was obviously accidental, Montoya said, but she sent film of the initial contact to the New Mexico Activities Association for a review.
“Her beck snapped back,” the coach said. “She didn’t move for about 10 seconds then she started having seizures for 20 to 30 seconds. All we could see from the bench was her neck snapped back. Our view from the bench, it looked like she broke her neck or her back. She looked paralyzed. That was our view.”
Aguilar was initially going to be airlifted by helicopter to Presbyterian Española Hospital, but her mother was concerned coming on the heels of the recent accident that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people, Montoya said.
She ended up being taken by ambulance to the hospital, and was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, a concussion and fractures of the bones in her orbital and sinus areas, Montoya said.
The decision to stop playing was an easy one, she said.
“They freaked,” Montoya said of her team. “We couldn’t calm them down. We were in an emotional state and I had to do what was best to protect my team. I gathered the girls and we prayed for Jennifer right there.”
This was the second meeting between the teams and first game, which was also very physical, the Panthers won. The teams are scheduled to play again Feb. 15 in Peñasco and could very well meet again in the District 5-2A tournament.
Escalante coach Rico Deyapp did not respond to an email request for comment.