GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Meyer's toughness shines through for Dragons
ADRIAN -- Adrian girls' basketball coach Randy Strand said Karli Meyer looked like a wounded "war veteran." Senior guard Sam Lynn said Meyer resembled "a mummy." Meyer said it looked like she was "wearing a turban."
No matter the description, everyone agreed on one thing: It wasn't pretty.
In the second half of Adrian's 57-43 victory over Southwest Christian in the Section 3A South title game March 6, Meyer dived for a loose ball near midcourt. She collided with SWC's Kayla Broekhuis, and both players fell hard to the court. Broekhuis stayed down, but Meyer jumped to her feet and raced the other way, trailing her teammates on a fastbreak. A trail of blood followed in Meyer's path.
"Most of the attention was on Broekhuis lying on midcourt, and Meyer came walking over with a handful of blood and said, 'Coach, I'm bleeding,'" Strand said. "I could see right away that it was going to need stitches; it was busted open pretty good."
Said Lynn: "There was a lot of blood. I was just like, 'Holy crap.'"
Meyer suffered a gash just above her left eyebrow. Adrian's coaches immediately realized that Band Aids wouldn't be enough to stop the bleeding, so they covered the wound with pre-wrap and wrapped athletic tape around her head.
"When she got done, she looked like a Civil War veteran," Strand said, laughing. "I asked her, 'Are you feeling woozy?' She said, 'I'm fine; I'm ready to go back in.'
"She went back in and just played. She had this thing wrapped around her head, and it actually got the fans pretty excited. They see what looked like a war veteran come back in, and it was a gutsy move on her part, and the fans got a little louder and kind of picked us up a little bit."
The gash was so severe that blood was leaking through the tape, forcing Adrian's coaches to apply another layer. Meyer didn't care.
"I wanted to go back in, but they were having a hard time getting the pre-wrap and tape to stay on," Meyer said. "I said, 'Do whatever you have to do, but I need to go back in.' Of course, I was hoping I wouldn't get hit in the face again, but I was like, 'I want to win this game.'
"I looked like I had a turban. I've seen pictures of it, and I was told I looked like I had no hair. It was literally wrapped so all you could see was my ponytail in the back. It was ridiculous."
Meyer, who scored 11 of her game-high 16 points in the second half, converted a three-point play -- despite her bulky headwear -- near the end of the game to help Adrian seal the victory.
The top-seeded Dragons will face Canby at 5 p.m. today in Montevideo in the Section 3A championship.
"I walked up to our bench and was like, 'Coach, I'm bleeding,' and he's yelling at the bench to grab a towel," Meyer said. "I didn't start freaking out until people were pushing me down on a chair and putting a towel against my eye. It wasn't really too bad; I've had it happen before."
Last summer, during the freshman Pacesetter tournament, Meyer took an elbow to the eye while driving to the hoop. The blow opened up a gash in the same spot.
"I got that glued, but that was a lot smaller," she said. "This one was almost two inches long and probably a quarter-inch deep."
After cutting down the nets in celebration, Meyer posed with her teammates for a unique team photo.
"Every picture from here until the end of forever is going to have me with this turban-wrap on my head," Meyer said, laughing. "There are so many pictures. I've had people say, 'I have you on my cell phone; you're set as my background.' It was ridiculous."
Meyer then went to a hospital, where she was given an impromptu haircut.
"The tape got caught in the end of my hair, so she had to snip a little of my hair off in the back," Meyer said. "And I told them I wanted them to save my eyebrow, because they had taped right over the top of it. So I said, 'If you can save it, that would be awesome because I want to keep it.' I would have drawn it on. My mom teaches art, so I would have been like, 'Mom, draw my eyebrow on; make it look symmetrical.'"
Meyer got to keep her eyebrow, along with nine stitches.
"I did not cry the entire time, until they did that (shot)," Meyer said, laughing. "Then it just kind of set in: 'Oh, my gosh, my eyebrow is busted wide open right now.' And the shot hurt the worst. I didn't feel it when I got stitched up, and it didn't hurt to get cut because my adrenaline was so high. But when that wore off and they were poking my eye with a needle, I was like, 'OK, I'm freaking out.'"
The next morning, nearly the entire side of Meyer's face was black, blue, red, and swollen.
"She was actually a little disappointed that she didn't get a little blacker eye out of it," Strand said. "We always talk about it: 'If we're going into war, expect to get battle scars.' And sometimes they like to see the skinned knees and the bruises on their arms and things like that; they can show them off to the other kids."
The ordeal exemplified the type of player Meyer is. Listed at just 5-foot-9, Meyer easily is one of the smallest centers in the Red Rock Conference. But, through aggressiveness, fearlessness, ferocity, speed and intelligence, she's held her own against RRC post powers such as Murray County Central's Emily Bose (6-foot-1), Red Rock Central's Thea Engen (6-0), SWC's Kara Van Dyke (6-1), and Southwest Star Concept's Katey Granstra (6-1), among others. Meyer is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.
"When she goes against one of those girls, she wants to be as good as they are and she wants to prove it to herself and everybody else," Strand said. "She has a big basketball heart, and she's very competitive. She's out to play, and she likes challenges."
Meyer's and the Dragons' next challenge involves accomplishing a feat the Adrian girls' basketball program never has achieved. With a victory today, the Dragons will advance to the state tournament for the first time.
"We'll appreciate the work we've put in this season, obviously, but we're not going into it thinking we're going to be settled with a loss," Meyer said. "We're going into it to win."