By Rick White: CNJ managing editor
Clovis’ Cisti Greenwalt is finally living up to her potential at Texas Tech after an off-season filled with adversity.
With her long reach and uncanny timing — she’s Tech’s all-time leading shot blocker — the 6-foot-5 senior has always been a defensive presence. This season she’s shown the offensive skills that made her a prized recruit four years ago.
With a 21-point and six-rebound effort in a blowout win Tuesday over Sacramento State, Greenwalt is averaging 14.1 points and 10 rebounds game for the 12th-ranked Lady Raiders.
Her return to the court after surviving an off-season that included a battle with skin cancer and a near-fatal car accident was selected the second biggest area sports story in 2004 by the CNJ staff.
Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said the way Greenwalt has handled a lifetime of adversity packed into eight months has been remarkable.
“I have been very impressed with how positive she remained throughout all of the adversity she faced,” Sharp said. “ I think her attitude had a great deal to do with the good outcome of all of her circumstances.”
Through all the adversity, Greenwalt stayed focused on playing in 2004-05.
During her month of chemotherapy she lifted weights and participated in conditioning drills whenever her body would allow. Some days were easier than others.
“This is my senior year, so I want to do everything I can to make it the best,” said Greenwalt, who has recorded five double-doubles in points and rebounds this season for the 8-2 Lady Raiders. “I didn’t want to get out of shape or get behind.”
A month after she was done with the chemo, Greenwalt was involved in a high-speed rollover that landed her in the intensive-care unit for a couple of days.
Greenwalt, who was returning to school after spending the weekend with her family, said she was lucky she only suffered bruised lungs and bruises and scrapes on her body.
“All I remember was hanging onto the steering wheel and thinking that if I don’t stop rolling over I’m going to die,” said Greenwalt, Clovis’ all-time leading scorer.
Witnesses told Greenwalt her 2000 Nissan Xterra catapulted 25 to 30 feet into the air and rolled over several times. It left the highway after she said she swerved to avoid a pickup truck.
Greenwalt said her goals have changed since she arrived at Tech.
“I still want to play at the next level,” Greenwalt said in November. “But right now I’m glad I’m healthy and can play. I just want to spend time with my teammates and coaches and have some fun.
“This could be my last year of real basketball.”