Featured, Sports

Mouse Signs To Play At Concord

Madison “Mouse” Blankenship (seated in light shirt) is surrounded by her River View teammates last Wednesday after signing to play basketball at Concord University after graduation from high school.  Standing in back row are her head coach Gehrig Justice (second from left) and her assistant coach Don Smith (on right). 

By: Gary Dove
WV Sports Writer
BRADSHAW – There was no school last Wednesday in McDowell County, but that didn’t mean there .was not something exciting happening at River View High School.
Senior Madison “Mouse” Blankenship surrounded by family, fellow Lady Raider basketball players and friends signed a letter-of-intent to attend Concord University and play girls’ basketball for the Lady Mountain Lions after she graduates in a little over three months.
As a four year performer on the hardwood for the Lady Raiders, Mouse was a contributing player as a freshman for the first River View girls’ team to make it to the state tournament in March of 2017.
She started for the Lady View as a sophomore and as a junior, exhibiting leadership as well as prowess on the court.
However, last June 22 she was playing in a game at Concord University when she tore her ACL.
That injury required two surgeries and almost six months rehab in order to be able to get back on the basketball court.
Asked about her signing with Concord, Mouse said, “I’m excited to get to play (college basketball) and see what the future holds for me.”
She plans to major in Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine at the Athens-based school.
Mountain Lion head coach Kenny Osborne has told her he plans to redshirt her next year in order to help the knee further heal.
Gehrig Justice, her high school coach at River View remarked of her signing, “We’ve known for a while she has the athletic ability to play somewhere.”
Sharing what Coach Osborne has told him, Coach Justice related Concord will probably use Mouse at the 4 (forward) position.
“She has enough length to play there, plus she has some range. She can go outside and shoot from there…In high school she has the abilities to play guard. That’s the great thing about it, she can play any one of the five positions.”
The original signing date for Blankenship was the Thursday before she actually signed, but that was postponed due to flooding in McDowell County and school being called off that day.
When the actual event occurred last Wednesday, it was almost symbolic of her journey over the last nine months to end up at Concord.
Explained Coach Justice, “Before the game last year at Concord, Coach Osborne told me he planned to talk with her after the game (about coming to Concord) and of course she got hurt.
Continued Justice of Osborne’s help since the injury, “I can’t speak highly enough of Coach Osborne for staying with her. He’s kept in
contact to make sure she was rehabbing well and he’s given me a lot of advice on how to gradually phase he back in. This is the first one (ACL injury and rehab) I’ve had to deal with.”
Blankenship was released to play on January 13 and her first game back was January 14 against Westside. She has gradually increased her playing time to where she played 29 minutes last week against Logan when she scored 9 points, blocked 5 shots and grabbed 5 rebounds.
Mouse is the daughter of Burb and Valerie Hale Blankenship of Mohawk.
Her Mother related how Mouse has been almost addicted to basketball since she was four years old, “When she was four, we would take her to the Y in Gilbert to play basketball…(During her rehab) She would come to the gym with her boot on and just shoot.”
Valerie, the daughter of a Minister and also the sister of a Minister, spoke of their faith in Mouse’s recovery, “It’s a miracle to see her out there. It’s just a miracle to see her go up and down the court and know that God answers prayers.”
“Even through the therapy, she would never get discouraged.”
Valerie sees this experience as a possible inspiration to someone else who has been injured or sick and must go through a lengthy recovery, “I told her that I give God all the glory for her recovery and I think that if someone sees this and what she has done in the recovery they will say ‘I can do that too, through God.’”
Family members present for Mouse’s big event included her Mom and Dad, her maternal grandparents Wilma and Rev. Roger Hale, Sr. along with her paternal grandparents Betty and Burb Blankenship, Sr.
Also present was her older sister Kameron Blankenship and Mouse’s twin brother Gabriel, a standout for the Raider football team.
Her uncle is Rev. Roger Hale, Jr., the head boys’ basketball coach at River View.