Senior Elaina Hansen overcomes injury to lead Clearview girls basketball

The multi-sport star for the Pioneers scored her 1,000th career point on Dec. 23 and is leading the team with 20.2 points per game in 2017–18.

Clearview Regional High School senior Elaina Hansen drives to the hoop during the Pioneers’ 55–52 win on Wednesday against Gloucester County Institute of Technology.

After finishing her junior season with 935 career points, it appeared reaching the 1,000 career points milestone would be a cinch for Clearview Regional High School girls basketball’s Elaina Hansen.

However, one summer league basketball game nearly ruined Hansen’s entire senior season. Hansen slipped on the court during a game in late June and tore her right proximal hamstring.

“When that happened, it was almost the end of the world,” Hansen said. “I didn’t think it was going to get back for the season. Doctors told me it was going to take six months to a year to recover.”

About six months later, Hansen was back on the court and lighting up the scoreboard. Hansen scored her 1,000th point in the team’s fourth game of the season on Dec. 23 against Cherry Hill High School East. Through the first eight games of the 2017–18 season, Hansen is Clearview’s leading scorer, averaging 20.2 points per game.

Hansen’s ability to bounce back from her torn hamstring can be traced back to her roots. Hansen is highly competitive, having played at least seven sports in her lifetime. Softball, soccer, field hockey, basketball, lacrosse and volleyball are all sports Hansen has played at some point as a kid. Hansen was even a football player for about seven years, playing linebacker and fullback until she was in seventh grade.

“My dad really wanted one of his kids to play football,” she said. “My brothers are not athletic at all. So his boys didn’t play football, but I played.”

At Clearview, Hansen has become a two-sport star in basketball and softball. She has already written her name in the school’s softball record books. She broke the school’s record for career home runs and eclipsed the 100-hit milestone as a junior in 2017. Late last year, Hansen committed to play softball at Division II Holy Family University beginning in 2019.

When it came to basketball, Hansen didn’t always believe she would be a star. Playing on travel teams in middle school, she struggled to get playing time.

“They had a fifth quarter for the kids who didn’t get playing time,” Hansen said. “I was always one of those players.”

Prior to her freshman season, Hansen said something clicked. She began focusing on basketball training and made huge strides. She made the varsity team as a freshman, averaging more than 10 points a game her first year.

“I work better when I have someone pushing me for a spot,” Hansen said. “There was a senior who I was battling with all year trying to get their position. I do better with competition.”

“It was a lot different, a high-paced game and a lot faster,” Hansen added about her first year. “But by midseason, I picked up really well.”

Hansen led Clearview in scoring as a sophomore and finished second on the team in scoring last year as the Pioneers won 17 games. Hansen was confident entering her senior year until the torn hamstring over the summer changed everything.

After consulting with multiple doctors, Hansen had surgery to repair her hamstring in early July and immediately began rehabbing.

“It was six weeks in a whole leg brace, no weight bearing,” Hansen said about the start of her rehab. “After the six weeks, I could take off the brace and get off crutches and start walking on it.”

Hansen progressed to balance work, running and eventually sprinting. The challenge was regaining the strength in her right leg and working on her balance. When basketball practice began after Thanksgiving, Hansen was unsure of herself.

“I was not quite there yet, but more than anything else, I was nervous,” she said. “I was playing almost scared. But after the first week or two of practices, I got back into it.”

Any doubt about whether Hansen would be her old self this season was wiped away in Clearview’s season opening game against Wildwood High School. Hansen dominated, scoring a career-high 38 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in leading the Pioneers to a 66–42 win.

“That first game was really big, because a lot people told me I wasn’t going to be able to play in that first game,” Hansen said. “So to come out and score 38 points, it felt great.”

Hansen has continued to be a force for Clearview into mid-January. She scored at least 12 points in six of the Pioneers’ first seven games and has recorded three double-doubles.

With the 1,000-point milestone and her injury rehab behind her, Hansen’s next goal is to help Clearview to a Tri-County Conference Royal Division title. The Pioneers entered their Jan. 10 game against Gloucester County Institute of Technology with a 1–1 conference record, one game behind Williamstown High School and Highland Regional High School for first place in the division.