It was a play Mac Oribello has made a thousand times in her basketball career.
Playing for her club team in a tournament championship game at UC San Diego on Memorial Day, the 5-foot-3 guard dived to the floor for a steal.
With all her weight on her left leg, Oribello said she got hit from the side.
“I was on the ground. I didn’t have any idea what happened,” Oribello said.
“I thought maybe my leg was broken. I couldn’t look. When I did look, the leg looked fine.”
But it wasn’t.
While the on-duty trainer at UCSD warned Oribello to expect the worst, which was a torn anterior cruciate ligament, it took a few diagnoses before the true nature of the injury was disclosed.
The pediatrician thought it was just a bone bruise or maybe a torn meniscus.
Simple surgery and she’d be back in time for her senior year at Westview.
The MRI, however, revealed a torn ACL.
And that brought with it the chance of missing at least a great portion, if not all of her last season as a Wolverine.
“I thought it would hurt going to college,” the four-year varsity performer said.
Three days after surgery, Oribello was walking. She began physical therapy two times a week. She also got a gym membership so she could start rehabbing on her own.
She lost weight. A private trainer aided the recovery, which ended Dec. 27 with the opening game of the SoCal Holiday Prep Classic against Olympian.
Oribello scored 14 points in her debut this season. She added 16 the next night.
“She never played scared, not even that first season as a freshman,” Westview coach Bob McHeffey said. “She did not want to spend time on the bench and that’s all she did this year until her first game.
“It was tough for her not being out there for the first practice much less watching games from the bench.”
Oribello, the team’s leading scorer in her first two games this year, is averaging 10 points through eight games.
The left-handed shooter went from scoring 7.8 points per game as a freshman to 11.2 points as a sophomore to 11.1 points last year.
“Being on the court is awesome after missing seven months,” said Oribello, who scored 14 points in the finals and was named MVP in the Holiday Prep Classic’s NAIA Division as the Wolverines downed Rancho Bernardo for the crown.
“I felt rusty that first game and my stamina was really off.
“I missed my first shot, a 3-pointer, but I got a layup for my first points senior year.
“I had a smile on my face the whole way down the court.”
Oribello is closing in on 1,000 career points.
“There were a couple of times when coach looked at me on the bench while I was rehabbing and asked if I was sure I couldn’t go in,” Oribello said. “Even though we all knew I couldn’t go in, it felt kind of nice that he said that.”
She also learned San Francisco State would honor the scholarship it offered Oribello, who plans to major in kinesiology.
“Having gone through therapy like this gives me a unique perspective for injured athletes in therapy,” she said.
“I am very bad watching someone take my blood and I only recently watched the tape of my surgery.
“I could only watch for about 30 seconds, but I have the scars to show an injured athlete that I know what they’re going through.”
One thing Oribello is not squeamish about are horror movies.
She loves them. The scarier the better.
“I’m afraid of the dark, but I love scary movies,” she said. “That’s an odd combo I know, but I always make sure there’s at least a little light on somewhere.”