By RICK PETERSON
Mackenzie Gamble's Washburn University women's basketbll career has been a pain ... literally.
But after battling through a series of knee injuries, the 5-foot-7 senior guard and the Ichabods are experiencing the gain this winter.
"I've had three knee surgeries throughout my four years here and I've been battling those (injuries) this year still, but hopefully no more surgeries, knock on wood,'' said Gamble, who hails from Highlands Ranch, Colo. "I tore my meniscus and there's a 60 percent chance of a re-tear so it's kind of always going to be there as a concern.
"It's something that I'm just always working through, but my surgeon that's been helping me has been awesome, so I'm giving credit to him.''
Gamble is having the time of her life on the court, turning in a solid start to the 2023-2024 season while helping Washburn get off to a 10-3 start.
"This is one of the funnest teams I've been on,'' Gamble said. "I don't know if that's just because I'm a senior so I get to be at the top leading these girls or what, but I'm really enjoying the personalities and chemistry we've got on this team.''
Gamble is averaging 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists for the Ichabods, with 23 3-pointers while playing 22.5 minutes per game and making seven starts.
Gamble hit her 100th career 3-pointer in Saturday's 84-58 MIAA win over Newman and is just four assists away from hitting the 100 mark entering Wednesday's 5:30 p.m. road game at Central Missouri.
"She's the bionic woman,'' Washburn coach Lora Westling said. "I think it's a testament to two things. One, Mackenzie Gamble is about as tough as they come, She is just driven and organized and mean and tough and all the things you want in a guard, so she's stuck with it when a lot of people would throw it in. She's an incredible basketball player and I just can't say enough about her.
"And we also have, in my mind, truly the best athletic training staff and medical staff in the country and they have been there every step of the way with her so we've kind of have a dynamic duo and I'm just so blessed and thrilled that she stayed around her last year.''
Gamble was limited to 18 games as a junior while shooting just 31.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point range.
But Gamble has rebounded to shoot 42.6 percent from 3-point range this season (37.8 overall) and go a perfect 7 of 7 from the free throw line.
Gamble has cracked double figures in three of her last four games, averaging nine points during that span while hitting nine 3-pointers.
"I think that with my shot, repetition is always going to be helpful,'' Gamble said. "And I think confidence is a big thing and that's where I'm seeing a little more consistency in my shot this year is just being confident as a senior and I'm just getting reps in to hopefully keep that flow going.''
Gamble and her Ichabod teammates are also doing everything they can to build off their hot start over the rest of the season.
"I'm having a lot of fun,'' Gamble said. "I think practices are really competitive this year. I like competing, I like doing that every day and I feel like the squad we've got is bringing that to practice every day.
"We've just got to keep executing in games and it will keep being fun.''