The Glenelg girls’ basketball team had bad luck with ACL injuries in 2012.

Senior guard Emily Russo, the Gladiators top scorer, had surgery last Friday to repair her torn right ACL, an injury she sustained Dec. 17 against Mount Hebron. Russo, who will play for UMBC next season, averaged just over 16 points per game last season for Glenelg and was the leading scorer for the Gladiators again this season.

“It’s heartbreaking. All of it together, I mean nothing about it is good,” Russo’s teammate Sam Heisig said. “You can’t find any good news out of it except for it happened now to her instead of during the spring when it would push getting back for college.”

With Russo gone, the Gladiators (5-3, 3-3 Howard County) will look to Heisig, the team’s second leading scorer from a year ago, to pick up some of the slack. That plan is complicated by the fact that Heisig is returning from her own ACL tear last summer. Heisig said she’ll be officially cleared to play Jan. 1, putting her on pace to appear in her first game of the season on Friday against Hammond.

“We have to kind of blend her back in and not throw her back in there four quarters all at once. She’s got to get back into game shape,” Glenelg Coach Don Beall said. “She hasn’t really run up and down the court like you have to do in basketball.”

The Gladiators went 3-0 without Russo and Heisig, leaning on double-digit scoring performances from players like Olivia Nowlin, Kristin Yuan and Megan Taylor. Glenelg will need improved production from all of them as Heisig shakes off the rust of a five-month break from basketball.

“I’m so excited.” Heisig said. “People are saying that I feel a lot of pressure now with my teammate Emily being out, but I’m not really coming back to play for a state ring, I’m more coming back just to play and get out there because I haven’t played in so long.”

Heisig said she’s been warned not to have high expectations for herself early on and that it will take time before she’s able to play at the level she’s accustomed to. But with just one semester left in her high school career to showcase herself to college programs, the senior said she’ll try to hit the ground running.

“I’ve been told I won’t be as good as I used to be yet,” she said. “I’m not really not listening to it, but I’m just kind of using it to say ‘okay, I can prove you wrong and I’ll be out there and do better than I used to.’ I’m kind of taking baby steps forward, because it’s a long process.”