April 4, 2013

Faulkner focuses on future

CHICKASHA — The next step forward in Graham Faulkner’s life would end his basketball career.

The Drovers were playing at Lubbock Christian in late February. With both teams battling for the fourth position in the conference standings, the game was intense and competitive. This was the turning point of Faulkner’s career.

“Obviously, I would like to say we were down by two points; I got the ball in my hands with three seconds left. I take a pull-up dribble from 30 feet, and I let the ball go out of my hands and as soon as I come down I felt my ankle pop,” he said. “I made the three, we win, and everyone goes crazy or whatever dream you could come up with.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the story for this senior guard.

“It was a simple everyday basketball play,” Faulkner explained. “I believe Norris Rumph was on the opposite wing and put up a jump shot. I was getting back on defense when the ball bounced off the top of the rim. I switched all my momentum and when I pushed off my right foot, I felt a boom. It sounded like a shotgun had gone off.”

He fought through the pain and passed the ball to Rumph, a senior guard who had 83 assists and more than 400 points on the season. Faulkner immediately looked to the bench and yelled that he had torn his Achilles tendon.

Despite shooting pain, Faulkner attempted not to “be soft.” During a practice that week while preparing for the game, Faulkner accidently hit Rumph in the face.

“I asked if he was all right and he was like ‘man, don’t ask if I am all right;’ he was like ‘stop being soft,’” Faulkner said.

So during the game at Lubbock Christian, Rumph walked over during a timeout to check up on Faulkner.

“Norris came up to me on the bench and asked if I was OK,” Faulkner said. “I told him to shut up and quit being soft. I told him to go get the ‘W,’ and we would talk after the game.”

Sherrie Faulkner, Graham’s mother, was watching the game on the Internet.

“The announcer was saying how much pain he was in, and that he was really hurt,” Sherrie said. “The camera, of course, was back on the remainder of the game, so I couldn’t see what was going on. I had a pretty good idea he would be out for the rest of the season. All I could do was pray, whine a little bit and wait for more information.“

It was the second to last regular season game for the Drovers, who went on to compete in the NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship tournament. Faulkner scored 79 points this season and 457 in his career at USAO. He played in 101 games for the Drovers. As a four-year Drover, his presence on the court was missed in USAO’s post-season games.

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