It’s Comeback Season

Jaggers Makes a Return to the Court
The bench had electric energy cheering on senior Ace Jaggers whilst playing against Elizabethtown on Jan. 12.
The bench had electric energy cheering on senior Ace Jaggers whilst playing against Elizabethtown on Jan. 12.
Courtesy of Ace Jaggers

Senior Ace Jaggers is no stranger to the dance of athleticism we know as the game of basketball. He began play at the mere age of three for a local church league and started to take it seriously in the third grade at G.C. Burkhead Elementary. As a 2023 All-Region player, it was second nature for Jaggers to choreograph passes and orchestrate finesse from all corners of the court.

However, after going up for a routine rebound in an AAU tournament held in Nebraska last April, Jaggers stepped down onto an eight month recovery. He endured the infamous ACL knee surgery just three weeks later.

“I didn’t know what happened at first, I thought my knee was just dislocated, but then I tried to stand up and walk and I couldn’t walk,” Jaggers said.

Jaggers’ mother, Tessa Dumbacher, shares similar passions for basketball as she too played growing up and is a Campbellsville University women’s basketball alum. She had a courtside view of the unfortunate injury.

“Ace has never had a serious injury in his life, but we both knew it was serious,” Dumbacher said. “ I feel like I handled it worse than he did. I always felt like he was super positive like; ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to get the surgery, do the P.T., I’m going to be back.”

Seniors Brett Decker, Brycen Goode, and Camareius Caldwell visit Jaggers following his ACL operation. (Courtesy of Ace Jaggers)

Since May 2023, Jaggers has routinely attended physical therapy three times a week while also working with a trainer in his free time as a continuous effort to get cleared. He was already a leader on the CHHS boys’ basketball team, but this “time off” allowed an opportunity for him to step up as a role model more than ever.

“The thing that gave me hope was that Ace remained having hope. A low day never stayed low for him,” CHHS head coach Tavon Johnson said. “He is a relentless kid that has dreams and goals, and is going to attack each day to ensure he is the last man standing and on top of the mountain looking face to face with those dreams and goals.”

Jaggers expressed gratitude towards his family, coaches, and teammates for surrounding him with such a productive environment.

“They never really acted like I was hurt and they kind of let me coach in a way. I was trying to still lead the team,” Jaggers said.

Missing the first games of his senior season was unanimously hard on all parties involved. However, Jaggers was cleared just in time for three hometown match-ups and scored double digits across the board, leading the Bruins to a sweet “E-Town beat down” last Friday.

“Most people don’t even get to play now and he’s getting to play, so I think we’re just really thankful. It’s kind of hard to say ‘oh poor me’ because we’re not missing where it counts,” Dumbacher said.

Even though the Bruin community was confident in Jaggers’ return to the court, multiple pre-season polls and media outlets did not include him as a threat. This doubt only fueled his fire.

“At first I said I wanted to come back in November, but I didn’t really do the math in my head because that was way too early. Whenever I realized that’s not realistic, I wanted to come back before the New Year and I ended up doing that,” Jaggers said. “I always believed I was going to come back, I didn’t feel like I had the option to wait.”

Even though this is Johnson’s first year coaching at CHHS, he never questioned Jaggers’ ability. To describe him in one word, Johnson felt “relentless” was most fitting.

“The grit he has, the desire to be the best at whatever he does, not letting obstacles that he faces define who he is going to be in the future,” Johnson explained. “He faces that obstacle head on and maneuvers through it to overcome it.”

As a concerned mother, Dumbacher was pleasantly surprised with how Jaggers faced this adversity, as he stayed so positive and resilient.

As a junior, now senior Ace Jaggers was named to the All-District and All-Region teams. In a 2022-2023 match-up, Jaggers goes for a dunk over senior Ayden Evans. (Courtesy of Ace Jaggers)

“I’ve never had to say ‘are you going to do your shots today, are you going to get your workout in?’ He does that on his own and he always has,” Dumbacher said. “I’ve also worked out with him and he’s much more capable than I think people realize.”

Jaggers, like his teammates and coaches, remains firm on the goal of winning the district and region championships this year. By the sound of it, he has worked through both physical and mental aspects to have the willpower to accomplish just that.

“In our house I say you don’t worry about things you’re not in control of. The things that you’re in control of are being a good teammate, putting forth your best effort, and being coach-able. You’re not in control of if you get hurt, you’ve prepared yourself,” Dumbacher said. “I feel like he has truly prepared himself for this moment, that’s why he’s been released and he’s going to go play like it’s his very last game.”

The Central Times congratulates Jaggers and the Bruins for their successes and cherishes the honor it is to report on them. The next home game is Jan. 22 against Breckenridge County at 7:30 p.m. Stay tuned to @chhstimes and @chhspep on Instagram for game themes. Show up and show out to support Jaggers and the Bruins.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover

Comments (2)

All The Central Times Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    Jo MillionJan 17, 2024 at 9:54 am

    Great article Syra!

  • E

    Emily WorthamJan 16, 2024 at 4:34 pm

    Great article about a great kid! Extra props to Syra for getting it posted over these snow days so it’s such a timely read.