Before Peyton Guice laced up her shoes for the first time this season, she had been fully cleared to play for 24 hours.
The sophomore had spent much of the year recovering from an injury sustained the season prior. Before she was injured, Guice was one of Ohio’s main starters. In fact, Ohio had been struggling without Guice’s prowess on the court.
Now, she’s back.
Guice and Ohio coach Bob Boldon had several conversations leading up to her return in Ohio’s 73-64 win over Miami on Wednesday night. Boldon wanted to make sure that this was something she wanted to do and that she was confident in her decision.
The two discussed the reality of Guice returning with two games left in the regular season — a move that could potentially cause her to forfeit a year of eligibility. However, Guice understood the stakes. She wanted to play basketball.
“I told her, I said ‘I can’t promise you I’m going to put you in a game,’” Boldon said. “And she goes ‘yes, and if I’m terrible, you’re going to take me out?’ and I said yes.”
The guard originally anticipated to return in January, but as the season wore on, it was clear that Guice was going to have to wait longer. As the calendar flipped to March, it seemed as if Guice was not going to make an appearance in the 2021-22 season.
But she was dressed and ready for the walk through on Wednesday.
Even then, it was still unclear if Guice had made her choice, and it was one that Boldon wanted her to have control of. He wanted Guice to feel confident in her decision. She had talked to her coaches and teammates before making her choice. However, Guice still wanted to be sure that it was time for her to return to play.
As the time ticked away before the start of the game, Guice wasn’t out on the court yet. It seemed as if she wasn’t going to come out. However, she stepped onto The Convo floor and contributed to Ohio’s defeat of Miami.
Guice came off the bench four minutes after tipoff to a roaring applause. The crowd inside The Convo was elated to see her return.
“(Not playing in a year) can be nerve-wracking,” Guice said. “It was nice that it was at home.”
The rust had all but fallen off of Guice by the fourth quarter. She made her first basket of the season — a clean 3-pointer — with 8:03 left in the game.
The celebration from her teammates and coaches reiterated the confidence that Guice had felt from them during the slow process of her return. It inspired her to shake her nerves and made her feel like she was back where she belonged.
Guice ended the night with five points, a rebound and an assist in 16 minutes of play. It may not seem like much, but to Guice, it was a massive leap. For all the obstacles she had to overcome, the rush of playing in The Convo again more than made up for it.
“(My teammates and my coaches) have a lot of confidence in me,” Guice said. “That allowed me to have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Now that the Bobcats have Guice back in their arsenal, their chances to make the Mid-American Conference Tournament could shoot up dramatically. Ohio is no longer short on substitutes, and it has one of its best players back in the rotation.