Corunna senior marks return from injury with milestone

ELLIE TONEY

CORUNNA — Ellie Toney — this week’s Argus-Press/Memorial Healthcare Athlete of the Week — is back on the court and the Corunna girls basketball team is winning again.

Toney, a 6-foot senior shooting guard/power forward for the Cavaliers, captured Second Team Division 2 All-State honors last season after averaging 21.6 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

But in the offseason, during a summer scrimmage, she suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in her right knee, underwent surgery and was forced to miss the volleyball season — as well several weeks of basketball season.

“It happened in June and I was playing in a scrimmage here and I just went up for a layup and a girl jumped on my back and I just heard a pop,” Toney said. “I had surgery on June 29.

“It kept me on crutches for six weeks after surgery instead of being able to walk right away is what the meniscus tear did. It just takes longer to heal,” she explained.

After undergoing rehab, Toney finally got her chance to return to the court Dec. 29 against Marysville during the Skippers Showcase in Port Huron. Toney responded by scoring 29 points with eight rebounds in a 62-55 loss to the 5-2 Vikings.

“I was cleared about a week and a half before my first game,” Toney said.

In her second game back, Tuesday, Toney eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in her four-year career. The senior scored 24 points, including 16 in the first half, during Corunna’s 55-15 victory at Holly.

“Holly was really nice,” Toney said. “They stopped the game and did a little presentation.”

Toney reached 1,000 points with a layup from the half-court set.

Toney led Corunna to another victory Friday. She delivered a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds as the Cavaliers took down Clio, 65-23. Junior guard Sydney Gillett, who herself has undergone ACL surgery and rehab, also scored 17 points.

“Sydney tore her ACL in April,” Toney said. “And she had surgery like May 11. And she got cleared about seven weeks before I did. That’s how far apart we were.”

Now both are finally back on the court. Gillett, a prolific scorer in her own right, and Toney, already best friends for several years, have grown even closer going through the same injury.

“It makes everything so much easier,” Toney said. “We’re really best friends and we always talk about it. If we’re struggling with something, what the other one did to make it better.”

Toney currently has 1,031 career points. Toney has a shot at surpassing the all-time Corunna girls career scoring record held by Allison Gross (1,269).

Corunna, has won back-to-back games and now stands 3-4 and 1-2 in the Flint Metro League Stars Division. The two conference losses were to Lake Fenton and Goodrich, which both are 3-0.

“Obviously the start wasn’t what we really ideally wanted,” Toney said. “But we played two of the best teams in our conference on our side the first couple of games, which was tough. But I think they competed and did what they could. And now, we have our full team and we’re healthy and our goal is just to compete for a conference championship and hopefully we can beat those teams we lost to.”

Corunna coach Ron Birchmeier said Toney is a special player.

“One of Ellie’s best qualities is her work ethic,” Birchmeier said. “During the offseason she’s always working on her game but what stands out to me is how she practices. When she is on the floor at practices, she has one speed — game speed. This is an outstanding quality that coaches love to see.”

But Toney’s ability to score is her best asset, noted the coach.

“Over the years, Ellie has displayed that she is a scorer and she has the ability to score from anywhere on the floor,” Birchmeier said. “This makes it a difficult cover for defenses.”

Looking back on her high school basketball career, Toney said helping Corunna win a district championship as a freshman ranks high.

“Just the whole experience that year was super fun,” she said. “Everyone on the team was super supportive. We had six seniors and so they were all teaching me how to play with them. And they helped me to become a better leader the next year. I had to be a senior my sophomore year.”

She scored a career-best 30 points against Linden as a sophomore and her best rebounding game was a 21-board performance against Lake Fenton.

Toney has also competed in volleyball and track and field at Corunna. She was named The Argus-Press All Area Volleyball Player of the Year as a junior. A unanimous first teamer in the Flint Metro League for the third year in a row, as well as an All-Region player for the third straight season, the attacker/setter had 166 kills and 265 assists. She helped Corunna finish 15-7.

Toney said her biggest volleyball highlight came her freshman year when she was a member of Corunna’s 2018 volleyball team which reached the state semifinals, only to lose to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in three games.

“That was an experience everyone hopes to have,” she said. “Even though it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, winning that game, the whole ride we had getting there, winning quarterfinals was just so much fun.”

Toney was a state qualifier in track and field in the shot put and discus in 2021.

Toney tied for 12th in the discus at 103 feet, 8 inches. She finished 14th in the Division 2 finals in the shot put at 33 feet, 7 inches.

Toney will continue her basketball career at Davenport University in Grand Rapids. She signed her national letter of intent to the Division II school in November. The Panthers compete in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). She plans to study nursing.

Toney has a 4.03 GPA. She is a member of the National Honor Society and has served on the student council.

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