NEWPORT — Nokomis is practicing for tonight’s girls basketball season opener against Winslow, and it’s time to do sprints. Megan Perry isn’t complaining. She’s probably closer to doing 50 in a row than she is to asking if she can sit out.

It’s not just because she’s a senior, and seniors are supposed to lead by example on things like that. It’s because the time when Perry had to sit and watch practice is fresh in her mind.

“You hate to run sprints and stuff like that. I’m just glad I can run sprints,” Perry said. “I’m glad I can do any of this, because I remember when I couldn’t. I wasn’t even allowed to jump or run or jog or anything. It was awful.”

Last winter, Perry tore her anterior cruciate ligament while driving to the basket in Nokomis’ 16th game. She missed the rest of the regular season and all of the playoffs, which ended with Nokomis winning the Eastern B title and playing Leavitt in the state final.

“It was really hard to sit there,” Perry said. “I remember, after every game, I was just so upset. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? It’s so exciting. It’s so much fun. And I had to sit there. I had to take on a different role and just be their biggest support system.”

Perry, who also plays softball and soccer at Nokomis, is back for her senior season. After surgery and months of rest and physical therapy, she was cleared to play again just a few days before the start of soccer season.

After being in much more pain than she expected a few days into the season, Perry wondered whether she would be able to come back at all. But she never missed a practice, and she was a big reason the Warriors lost only once in their first 11 games.

“She really didn’t miss much of a beat soccer-wise,” said Nokomis coach Kori Dionne, who also coaches the soccer team. “We had a great season, due in large part to her leadership.”

Perry is also a leader on the basketball court, and Dionne said she is moving even better than she did during soccer season.

“I was excited for her senior year and have been for a couple years now, just because I’ve seen what she’s capable of in terms of leadership,” Dionne said. “Between her and Marissa Shaw, the reason why our practices have been so intense and upbeat is because they’re constantly talking and demanding the best out of all those players.”

“I think that you can lead at whatever age that you are,” Perry said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be the most vocal. If you’re doing the right things and supporting other people, then you’re being a leader. I’m just more vocal now because I am a senior.”

It was still tough both physically and mentally for Perry to get to this point. Instead of being the starting catcher on the softball team, she stayed in the dugout and kept the scorebook. Instead of working on her soccer and basketball games during the summer, she was ordered not to run.

“I’ve played sports since I was a little kid,” Perry said. “I love sweating, doing stuff so that I’m working hard. Not being able to do that, it was hard. Even emotionally, after my surgery, when I was stuck on the couch, it just takes a toll on everything. My appetite went down. You’re just stuck there, so it’s hard not to get in a bad mood all the time.”

Now that she’s back, Perry can showcase her skills. A 5-foot-4 guard, she gives the Warriors an experienced ball-handler in the backcourt. She also plays solid defense and has enough range on her shot to knock down 3-pointers.

Like all coaches, Dionne likes players who make her job easier, and Perry does that.

“For her, it may not be what she specifically brings on the basketball floor,” Dionne said, “but what she brings to the team as a whole, which are kind of all those intangibles that are huge, that not a lot of people talk about.”

Dionne hasn’t picked her starting lineup yet but will say that she expects Perry to play a significant amount of minutes in every game.

“That’s one of my bigger problems this year — which is a good problem to have. I’m not complaining about it,” Dionne said. “I really feel (with) 10 out of my 13, I could start any five of those 10 and put a strong group out on the floor. So I’m really battling right now with where everybody’s going to fit in.”

Like Dionne, Perry sometimes can be hard on herself, and she says that when people tell her she does well, she always thinks she could have done better. Still, she already has shown she’s a key part of a championship-caliber team.

“I said to Coach at the beginning of the season, ‘I just want to be proud of and happy with what I bring to the table this season, (and) feel like I’ve done my part,’ ” Perry said. “As long as I’m happy with that, I’ll be happy with whatever happens.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
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