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Grangers’ Carston excited for opportunity

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It was a tough blow for a player on the rise.

During his sophomore season, LaGrange High’s Nafis Carston was starting to get some varsity playing time when he suffered a knee injury.

Carston ended up missing the remainder of his sophomore season, but he returned strong as a junior and had another productive senior season.

Now with his high-school basketball days behind him, Carston is ready to take his game to the next level, and he’s going to get the opportunity to do that.

Carston has committed to play basketball at Riverland Community College in Minnesota, and he’ll join a team coming off a 24-5 season.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Carston said. “I always wanted to go to college, and have that opportunity to play.”

The 6-foot-3 Carston was a key player for the Grangers last season.

Whether he was blocking shots, or finishing fast breaks, Carston was a critical piece of the puzzle for a team that went 19-10 and advanced to the state tournament.

“He’s very athletic, can run and jump, and he plays hard,” said LaGrange head coach Mark Veal. “He really developed over the past few years.”

Carston has come a long way from those difficult days when he was unable to play after going down with a knee injury.

“My sophomore year I got hurt in a (junior-varsity) game, and it was the same day I was going to get called up to varsity to play on the varsity against Callaway,” Carston recalls. “I was coming down on a fast break to try to dunk, but a defender had jumped on my back before I took off, and I twisted my knee.”

Carston shrugged off the disappointment and focused on his rehab, and he was able to have two healthy and productive seasons to finish his high-school career.

As a senior, Carston helped the Grangers open the season with a memorable 17-game winning streak.

“My knee was getting stronger, and I went to therapy, had my knee drained and all of that. It was a little rough road, a bumpy road, but I made it through,” Carston said. “As my knee got better and stronger, I went in the weight room, and got back in the gym to get my game ready for my junior year, and I had a great season. And this year, my senior year, we all had the mindset to go out and win. We actually made it to 17-0, and that was a blessing to make it that far.”

Veal said Carston’s contributions were vital to the team’s success.

“He ended up having a really good year for us,” Veal said. “Starting 17-0, and making the state playoffs, he was a part of it. He had some big games that we wouldn’t have won if he didn’t contribute.”

Like every other student-athlete, Carston is having to work out on his own at the moment, and he’s doing his best to make sure he’ll be ready when he arrives at college.

“I’ve been jogging, and I’ve been doing pushups, and my pops has a weight set at home, so I go out there and lift whenever I want,” Carston said.