After knee injury, Greensburg Salem’s Kaitlyn Mankins is back and better than ever

Wednesday, December 21, 2022 | 6:01 AM

Led to believe she could make a full recovery in four months, a goal-oriented and motivated Kaitlyn Mankins aimed for a shorter time to mend.

The Greensburg Salem forward suffered a gruesome injury last January in a game at Franklin Regional. It ended her season 12 games into her sophomore year.

As she came off a pick-and-roll in the first quarter, she bumped into another girl and crashed awkwardly to the hardwood.

Her leg buckled.

She dislocated her left patella tendon, and her twisted kneecap was jutting out the side of her leg.

The game was delayed 40 minutes, but before she knew it, she was in an ambulance on the way to Forbes Hospital.

The patellar tendon connects the kneecap to the shinbone.

“It was pretty freaky and shocking,” said Mankins, a 6-foot-1 junior. “My dad looked at my face and said I was pale. I was flabbergasted.”

While the injury did not require surgery, Mankins endured months of rehabilitation and therapy. Her leg was immobilized.

“It was straightened out that whole time,” she said. “I had an exercise program that helped me get back.”

She returned to AAU practice with the Western PA Bruins in March and was back to playing games in April.

“I had a speedy recovery,” Mankins said. “I lost muscle mass so my left leg was a lot smaller than the right one. When I could bend it again, it was stiff. I tried to stretch it back and kick my butt.”

Now she is kicking butt on the court. Mankins is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Lions (6-1, 1-0 Section 1-4A).

The classic post player has inspired her teammates to return to their unrelenting defensive form and dribble-drive offense.

The Golden Lions like to shoot 3-pointers. When they miss, Mankins is there to clean things up.

There is a level of trust for Greensburg Salem when Mankins is roaming the paint.

“It was frustrating for her because we were 9-1 and she was playing a last year with her sister (Abby),” Golden Lions coach Rick Klimchock said of her injury. “It was hard on her, her sister, her family and the team.”

Mankins had 19 points in a 56-20 win over Derry in the Section 1-4A opener. Her team has won five straight games.

“She worked extremely hard to get back,” Klimchock said. “She worked with a personal trainer and put in a lot of extra time. I think she is better physically.”

While Mankins is physically imposing on the low block, she misdirects shots on the other end of the floor with her long arms.

“A lot of times, a big doesn’t press, but with Kait, she can run the floor and defend (like a guard),” Klimchock said. “I think she is playing better than she ever has.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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