Elijah Pepper Set To Make Highly Anticipated Return
If there’s one thing we can guarantee, it’s there’s going to be a boost in ticket sales this Friday at Selah High School.
UC Davis commit and consensus top ten player in the state, Elijah Pepper, will be seeing his first game action of the 18-19 season this Friday against East Valley.
Requiring major knee surgery on his MCL in early November, Pepper believed in his heart that he was going to return at some point in his senior year.
The recovery process was a tricky situation however.
As badly as Pepper wanted to return and help his team, there was also no sense in jeopardizing his division I future.
“If I had returned early I probably would’ve hurt myself again,” Pepper said. “Listening to the doctor was the smartest thing I could’ve done.”
He would go on to hit all his milestones in the recovery process; And now he believes without a doubt he’s ready to go.
“I don’t feel any pain at all,” Pepper said. “I actually have more pain around my body because I haven’t been doing much.”
The return to full time basketball has indeed been a shock to Pepper’s body.
While he has been working on the sidelines doing agility drills, there’s simply no way to simulate live five on five while still recovering.
With just a few games left in the regular season, the Selah coaching staff intends to ease him into action very slowly. During fast-paced stretches, he’ll likely have to be taken out.
Pepper believes it’s not the physical aspect that’s throwing him off right now, it’s actually getting back in the groove playing with his teammates.
Selah’s entire personnel has changed since Pepper was last on the floor.
Forward Noah Pepper has emerged as perhaps the hottest star in the entire CWAC. Totally new faces like Shad Smith and Cooper Quigley have also made names for themselves.
Then there’s the elephant in the room: Calvin Herting. The three time All Leaguer has taken over full time point guard responsibilities in Pepper’s absence.
The plan going forward is there will not be a set point guard. Either Herting or Pepper can bring the ball up depending on the situation.
“Most of our plays are designed for the shooter,” Pepper said. “And we all know that Calvin’s a sniper.”
During Pepper’s two and a half month absence, several new contenders have stepped up in the CWAC.
Steele Venters and the Ellensburg Bulldogs (12-2) have turned into a serious threat. They actually beat Selah for the first time in five years back in December.
Then there’s unlikely contender Prosser Mustangs (9-4). Led by their sophomore sensation Haden Hicks, they’ve been making some noise.
Make no mistake about it however, the Selah Vikings still have the most talented roster in the league when fully healthy.
With Pepper now back in the fold, the Vikings are going to be revitalized and they should be taken seriously as a state contender.
“I’m definitely excited for these upcoming games,” Pepper said. “It’s been fun watching but now I’m just ready to go.”