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Leilani Kapinus jump photo

Leilani Kapinus has averaged 18.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4 steals per game in leading Madison Memorial to a 4-0 start this season.

Madison Memorial junior guard/forward Leilani Kapinus, one of the top female basketball recruits nationally in the class of 2020, will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury suffered in the Spartans’ girls basketball victory over Madison East on Nov. 30.

Kapinus spoke in separate interviews to sports radio announcers Dennis Semrau and Jesse Nelson on ESPN 100.5 FM and sports radio announcer Jimmie Kaska of the Big 1070, WTSO during halftime of Madison Memorial’s non-conference game against Waunakee on Tuesday night.

According to a recording of the interview, she told Kaska that a medical exam revealed she sustained a torn ACL and multiple meniscus tears in her right knee. She has an appointment Thursday to set up when she will have surgery.

She said she hoped she will return prior to next season, when she is a senior.

Last season ended with Kapinus tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in a WIAA Division 1 regional final game in February, also against Madison East. She didn’t need surgery for that injury.

She returned to win the Big Eight Conference high jump title in mid-May and finish 11th in the high jump at the Division 1 state track and field meet in June prior to her breakout summer playing AAU basketball.

She said Tuesday this injury “is way different” because with the PCL injury she didn’t require surgery.

She now will be a spectator for the rest of her team’s games this season.

“It’s really different having to sit back and watch it from a coaching standpoint,” she told Kaska. “I feel that is going to help me. (But), right now, it is kind of hard.”

This season’s knee injury occurred during a free-throw attempt in the late stages of Memorial’s 55-48 victory at East. A teammate missed a free throw, Kapinus grabbed the loose ball on the rebound, came down, gathered herself and was hurt when she planted, Madison Memorial coach Marques Flowers told the State Journal last week.

The 5-foot-11 Kapinus has been the ninth-ranked player nationally in Dan Olson’s ESPNW HoopGurlz Super 60 rankings for the Class of 2020. College coaches had been attending her games this season.

Her stock exploded nationally while playing for Wisconsin Flight Elite this summer. Her scholarship offers increased from five to 22, including the four in-state NCAA Division I programs.

Flowers had said earlier this season prior to the injury: “She’s just at a different level from where she was last year.”

Kapinus had 12 points against East before leaving the game and was averaging 17.2 points per game. She also had been leading the team in rebounds, steals and blocked shots.

Madison Memorial was ranked seventh in Division 1 in this week’s poll.

The Spartans are 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the Big Eight Conference — tied for first place.

The Spartans defeated Waunakee 64-54 on Tuesday.

Two of the Big Eight’s best players — Kapinus and Janesville Parker senior and UW-Green Bay commit Julia Hartwig (shoulder) — now have been lost for the season due to injuries.

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.