With her high school basketball career plagued by injuries, Lancers’ sophomore forward Tyler Crockom’s biggest nemesis became her health. While the pain is gone and her mobility is back, the scar on her right knee reminds Crockom of the long road she’s traveled to get back on the basketball court.
“My love for the game motivated me to get back on the court,” Crockom said.
Despite two major knee injuries, which required Crockom to undergo surgery and forfeit her high school playing career, the versatile and determined Crockom has battled back to help lead this year’s women’s basketball team to an impressive No. 5 ranking in the latest state poll.
“I didn’t want to give up on the game right away because of injuries,” Crockom said. “I’ve been playing this game since I was five years old and I knew I had to get my knee stronger and get my confidence back. Quitting was never an option for me.”
A graduate of Pasadena High School, the 5-foot-10 kinesiology major and versatile forward can play multiple positions, according to assistant head coach La’Nette Dillard.
“TT (Crockom) has the biggest role on our team,” Dillard said. “She plays the backup point guard and she starts at the power forward position so she has to transition from playing in the post and getting rebounds to running the team. She’s a very important piece to this year’s team.”
In the Lancers’ first game of the season, Crockom displayed her versatility on both sides of the ball with an array of steals and precise outlet passes that led to easy layups for her teammates. In a dismantling of West Los Angeles College, Crockom came close to a triple double with nine points, nine assists and 10 steals.
“Any given night Tyler can have a silent 15 points or silent double-double,” Thompson said. “She knows how to calm us down and get everyone in the groove. When we’re all rushing its Tyler who slows us down and gets everything together.”
Beyond the wide smile and precision passing, Crockom’s willpower and dedication to the game she loves continues to motivate her teammates.
“I’m so proud of Tyler,” sophomore center Kaitlyn Parks added. “She’s come so far off of her injury and she’s gotten her confidence back and her swagger as well. I just really love watching her play and drive to the basket.”
On the season Crockom is averaging 7.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and ranks fourth in the South Coast North Division with 3.9 assists per game.
“I like assists,” Crockom added with a smile. “I like to give the ball up and share the ball. If everyone is contributing or if someone is on fire that gives me motivation to facilitate and get the ball to them.”
Although Crockom’s significance doesn’t always show up on every box-score, her indirect leadership and versatility makes her an important part of this year’s team, according to coach Dillard.
“Sometimes she (Crockom) may not appear on the stat sheet as she should, but she’s always getting our team going. She’s our second engine in our car.” Dillard added.
Crockom credits her parents for being her support system and admitted that following her older brother around as a child led her to the game she currently loves.
“My parents are my biggest inspiration because they have always supported me in everything I do, whether its sports or academics.” Crockom said. “Growing up I followed my brother’s lead and he was always into sports, so I guess I have to thank him for that.”
In the Lancers’ 59-42 victory over Cerritos College, Crockom scored a team-high 13 points, six rebounds and six assists. The nifty forward displayed her versatility as she drove to the basket and set teammates up for easy points.
“Tyler’s a real key to this team,” Parks added. “She’s our surprise factor because she pops up whenever we need her. She can play both guard and forward positions, she rebounds, she finishes around the basket and I really enjoy playing with her and watching her play.”
Even though Crockom has helped the Lancers to an impressive 17-5 record, currently first in the SCC North, she said there’s still room to improve on defense.
“Right now our main focus is finishing games strong and keeping our defensive intensity for the full 40 minutes,” Crockom said. “We’re a talented team, but we just need to maintain our defensive intensity throughout the entire game.”
The talented and versatile sophomore has come a long way from two major knee injuries which could have ended her playing career. Crockom admitted to finally being healthy and ready to make a postseason run with two healthy knees.
“Last year I felt like I was babying my knee too much and I wasn’t as confident as I am now,” Crockom added. “This year I feel great, I don’t even think about the knee or hesitate to go to the basket anymore, no swelling and no brace. I’m good and we’re ready to make another postseason run.”