By Gene Phelps

Special to the Gazette

INGOMAR – Ingomar’s Zach Shugars plans to be on the basketball court when the Falcons open their season late next fall.

The 6-foot-3 junior guard/forward suffered a torn ACL (knee ligament) and torn meniscus (cartilage) playing AAU basketball in April. Surgery followed two weeks later and he’s been in physical therapy three days a week since.

“I’m confident Zach will be back,” Ingomar coach Jonathan Ashley said. “He’s got a good attitude and he’s a hard worker.”

Shugars will have the brace on his repaired left knee removed this week.

“Until I can put my full weight on it, we’re just doing the knee bending, getting full extension in my knee to allow me to walk,” he said. “Then I’ll begin work on strengthening my leg.”

Shugars played the post and power forward positions last season and averaged 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in leading Ingomar to a 34-5 record and a berth in the MHSAA Class 2A state tournament championship game. He was also named to the Daily Journal’s All-Area team.

Ashley has plans of moving his star to shooting guard during the season. He was playing the position when he suffered the injury.

Ingomar will look to 6-5 Nyhiem Jones, Clayton Stanford and Tyson Smithey to help inside. Brayden McNeal, a transfer from Arkansas who once attended school at Ingomar, adds another big body in the paint.

Shugars has been to every summer practice and game and likes what he’s seeing from his teammates.

“After watching us play, seeing Eli Reed and Spencer High step up (at guard) in the varsity games … that makes our lineup stronger,” he said.

“Hunter Bynum running the point guard will be good for us. I think he’ll lead us in the right direction. His shot has gotten a lot better.

“We’re expecting another good year.”

The rehab plan has Shugars slated to return two weeks before the season tips off.

“Hopefully, I’ll have enough time to get in game shape and get some shots up before the season starts,” he said. “I’m just ready to get back on the court.”

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