Canyon Cowboys girls’ basketball’s Isabella Escribano’s season was put in jeopardy on Friday night.
Escribano showed seizure-like symptoms when she fell to the floor after taking a hard screen in a Foothill League game against Saugus. There was no call on the play and the game nearly continued until family members and Cowboys head coach Jessica Haayer rushed out onto the floor.
“I ran over there, talked to her, tried to keep her awake,” Haayer said in a phone interview. “In my experience, in sickness, or if you get hit, you can’t freak out. You have to take it one step at a time. She calmed down, stopped hyperventilating and then the paramedics got there.”
Escribano was hospitalized and has returned home, where she is in good spirits. According to the Escribano family, doctors said Isabella’s heart potentially stopped beating after the collision before she started convulsing on the floor.
The freshman’s injury occurred in overtime with about two minutes remaining on the clock. Initially, both coaches agreed to continue the game, but with Escribano still being attended to on the floor, it seemed unlikely the game could go on.
Saugus eventually moved into the auxiliary gym before heading into a classroom, exiting the emotional and packed Canyon gym.
After deliberation between both sides, a decision was made to play the remainder of the game the next morning at 10 a.m. back at Canyon High School.
“The next morning, we came out with no energy,” Haayer said. “We had none and you could see it for the two minutes of the game. Everyone looked exhausted, I was exhausted, there was no fight left in us. All we cared about was our teammate. It’s hard to turn around and play a game when you have no answer if your family member is OK.”
At the time, there were still no answers on Escribano’s status. The Cowboys scored just one point in overtime, leading to a Saugus win.
According to Centurion coach Anthony Falasca, the decision to play the next day was made by administrators from both Saugus and Canyon. CIF rules indicated should the remainder of the game be postponed, the game will be played as soon as possible with CIF-sanctioned referees. Administrators found referees and made the call to have the game finish the next morning.
Falasca has known Escribano for years and put to rest any accusations of the play being intentional.
“I’ve known Izzy for seven or eight years,” Falasca said in a phone interview. “I’ve trained her a couple times and we always talk basketball. She’s a great player.”
“It was not intentional, that’s not something we teach. I can’t argue if it was or wasn’t a foul — the refs called what they called. I’m just glad she’s OK. Seeing she was home later on (through social media) brought a little more ease to our team. It was hard for our girls to leave the game and play the next morning — all we cared about was if she was OK.”
Controversy stirred briefly after the game when a member of the Saugus team made a post on social media celebrating the win with a picture of the team doing the Stephen Curry “Night-Night” celebration. The pose resembles the Golden State point guard pretending to sleep on his hands after hitting a shot that ices a game. The photo — a group shot of the team doing the “Night-Night” pose — had been taken previously in a group photo session.
The post has since been removed.
Haayer said her No. 1 focus is always player safety and wellness. The team may take some time off the court together to ensure everyone’s mental health is alright after the wild weekend.
“We’ll reach out to our wellness center and wellness rehab,” Haayer said. “We’ll talk things through and make sure we’re all OK, inside and out. Having a 14- to 15-year-old see something like that is pretty hard. We just need to make sure our girls are OK, then we’ll move forward with basketball. I’m more concerned with the wellness of our players than anything else.”
Both teams are slated to play on Tuesday at 5 p.m. as Canyon heads to West Ranch while Saugus returns home to host Valencia.
Escribano is yet to be cleared to return to basketball but has since been around her teammates.
“This day in social media, everyone knows who she is,” Falasca said. “Our players know how good she is and some know her off the court and are friends with her. This wasn’t a player on another team. This was a friend of our team, someone we know and care for beyond basketball.”