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McClure, ex-Bulldog, returns to the hardwood
Devastation. Rehabilitation. Exhilaration.

Ceres High graduate Kristen McClure has made a remarkable comeback from a serious knee injury that sidelined her for her entire freshman season in 2007-08 with the Modesto Junior College women's basketball team.

"It was hard sitting out for the whole year," she said. "It was a long process but I'm good now. I'm just happy I get to play again. It's been a good experience so far."

McClure, a starting post player for the Pirates, currently ranks second on the team in scoring and rebounding. She averaged 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds through Modesto Junior College's first seven games (1-6).

Kristen finished a perfect five-for-five from the foul line en route to tallying a career-high 17 points in a 67-56 loss at Merritt College on Nov. 19.

She totaled 16 points and 13 rebounds in a 81-72 defeat to the host Comets in the third-place game of the Contra Costa Tournament on Nov. 9.

A day earlier, McClure had eight points in her debut during the Pirates' 71-70 setback to Merritt College.

"We're really happy to have her back," Modesto JC head coach Mike Girardi said. "She's so strong down low. She has a nice turnaround jump shot. She's a good passer. She understands the game really well. I still believe Kristen would have started last year."

McClure stayed positive and involved despite not being able to play a season ago. She sat by her coaches on the bench, kept track of stats and cheered on her teammates.

"She has a very outgoing personality," Girardi said.

"I went to every game except two of the tournaments because that was after my surgery," McClure said. "Watching helped me a lot."

Kristen was forced to take a medical redshirt after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her right knee while playing in a 2007 Modesto Junior College summer basketball class.

"My knee popped while making a move," she said. "It was the worse injury I ever had."

The recover process was mentally and physically draining.

"It was really hard," McClure said. "The support of my teammates and family kept me going. All I could think about is if I get this done I'll play again. That was my motivation."

Kristen wears a bulky brace on her knee as a precautionary measure.

"There's a little pain but that's because I haven't played in over a year," she said. "I'm getting back to how I was. I'm going to keep working hard."

McClure starred in several sports at Ceres High School. She turned down a track and field scholarship to Central Arizona College after placing 13th at the CIF State Meet in the shot put as a senior.

McClure played varsity basketball for three seasons for the Bulldogs. She was named to the Valley Oak League first team after averaging 15.9 points and 11.6 rebounds per game during her final year.