By Rick White
CLOVIS — Nothing could dent former Clovis High standout Cisti Greenwalt’s determination to play basketball this season.
Not a broken ankle that ended her junior season. Not a month of strength-sapping chemotherapy to treat skin cancer. Not even a high-speed rollover that landed her in the intensive-care unit for a couple of days.
No way was she going to miss her senior season at Texas Tech.
“I actually consider myself a lucky person because things could have been a lot worse,” said the 6-foot-5 Greenwalt, Texas Tech’s single-season and career leader in blocked shots. “I was a little scared for a while, because I didn’t know if I was ever going to play basketball again.”
The Lady Raiders, ranked 12th in The Associated Press’ preseason poll, need a big year out of Greenwalt, the team’s only senior.
“Our team is very young and I don’t think we will know how good we might be until after Christmas,” Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. “A lot of our success will depend on how quickly some of our young players develop.
“As our only senior, Cisti will be heavily relied on to provide leadership, which she is doing very well, as well as giving us stability and consistency as a player.”
So far, so good as Greenwalt has participated in every workout.
In Tech’s season opener against Rice on Tuesday at Lubbock, Greenwalt scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Lady Raiders to a 66-56 victory.
“Cisti is playing as well as she has at any time in her career,” Sharp said. “I think she has developed a great deal more patience and focus during the past year.”
Sharp was stunned by the news Greenwalt was diagnosed with melanoma this summer, and again when she totaled her SUV while returning to school.
Through all the adversity, Greenwalt stayed focused on playing in 2004-05.
During her month of chemotherapy she lifted weights and participated in conditioning drills whenever her body would allow.
Some days were easier than others.
“This is my senior year, so I want to do everything I can to make it the best. I didn’t want to get out of shape or get behind,” she said.
Sharp said the way Greenwalt’s handled a lifetime of adversity packed into eight months has been remarkable.
“I have been very impressed with how positive she remained throughout all of the adversity she faced. I think her attitude had a great deal to do with the good outcome of all of her circumstances,” Sharp said.
Greenwalt said her goals have changed since she arrived at Tech as a highly-prized recruit four years ago.
“I still want to play at the next level,” Greenwalt said. “But right now I’m glad I’m healthy and can play. I just want to spend time with my teammates and coaches and have some fun.
“This could be my last year of real basketball.”