BENSALEM >> With 12.9 seconds left and his team holding a five-point lead, Cal Reichwein stepped to the foul line with a chance to effectively ice the game.
He’s come up clutch in so many moments like that over his career at West. Monday night was no different as the CB West senior drained both shots, his only points of the night as his team clinched an
SOL tournament title with a 39-34 win over Abington. It seemed insignificant, but given that about a month ago, he thought his season was over, it was not.
Reichwein, committed to continue his hoops career at Lafayette, has returned to the court after a three-week layoff with a torn meniscus in his left knee in time for his final high school playoff run.
“It felt good,” Reichwein said, clutching two bags of ice for his knee, after Monday’s game. “We’ve been working toward a championship, the division slipped through our fingers, but it was good, we made a statement to win this.”
The Bucks were on a roll when they traveled to Abington for a game with William Tennent in the SOL Challenge on Jan. 16. In the third quarter, a comfortable win almost became a catastrophic loss.
“I just came down on my knee really weird, it popped out, it was nasty,” the senior guard said. “The doctor said it wasn’t an ACL, which is good, but we think it’s a meniscus. There was a fear my season was over.”
For Reichwein, it was also a sense of deja vu, and not in a good way. After his freshman season, the guard tore the ACL in the same knee, requiring surgery and a six-plus month rehab.
The most reassuring news was that he didn’t tear it for a second time. The second-most reassuring news was that he could go without surgery and attempt to get back on the floor.
“With the point we were at in the season, (his doctor) said rehab it for as long as it takes,” Reichwein said. “So that’s what I’m doing and doing what I can to contribute.”
As a team captain, the hardest part wasn’t the rehab work, the cardio, lifting or solitary shooting on the side. The hardest part was watching some of his best friends and his younger brother Jake scrap and battle without him. While the senior did everything he could to cheer them on and act as another coach on Adam Sherman’s bench, he wasn’t able to help as the Bucks fell to Pennridge and North Penn, losing the SOL Continental race to Pennridge.
Reichwein didn’t have a set timetable for a return, just whenever his knee felt like it could take the pounding of a game. While the senior admits he’s not all the way back yet and there are some things, like hard cuts, that cause some issues, he’s been able to battle through.
Aside from his coach, Adam Sherman and teammates, Reichwein credited Shon Grosse, the phyisical therapist who helped him rehab from his ACL tear, for helping him return before the season’s end.
With two games left in the regular season, Reichwein felt it was time to get back in the game.
“I was a little nervous, it was the CB East game and I played about three minutes,” Reichwein said. “It was my last game, I got cleared the day before so I told the coaches I wanted to get back out there. I was about 60 percent, just enough to do what I can.”
The senior played more in the next game against CB South, calling it a “good game for me,” then again in the SOL semifinal agaist Plymouth-Whitemarsh.
Monday, neither team shot the ball especially well, but Reichwein did have a couple of nice assists despite being plagued with foul trouble for much of the night. His game has changed a bit, but the Bucks are better with him on the floor.
“What I can do is attack and dish to teammates spotting up,” Reichwein said. “Hopefully I can shoot the ball a little better the next time. And if it’s not working and we need someone else out there, I’m going to be as supportive as I can.”
Reichwein said he may need to have surgery once the season ends to repair the meniscus, but if he does it won’t affect his freshman season at Lafayette. For now, his focus on West.
Last season, the Bucks were upset in the first round of districts despite hosting a home game. CB West is again a top seed this season, grabbing the No. 7 seed and with the core of the team gearing up for a final run, the Bucks are applying a different mentality.
Reichwein admitted the team got caught looking ahead last year, but its done a much better job of keeping the focus internal.
Cal Reichwein may have a huge role in where the Bucks go in the postseason or he may be a supporting player. Regardless, he’s happy to be back on the court doing what he loves.
“They’ve been motivating me to get back, working with me all the time and investing in me a lot,” Reichwein said. “I’m doing what I can to pay it back for them.”