Kincer Can: How a Franklin Central standout overcame an injury to play college basketball

By Grady Michael Gaynor

Rayah Kincer and the Franklin Central Flashes face off in the first game of the IHSAA Girls basketball season Nov. 2, 2021, at Center Grove High School in Greenwood. The Flashes came out with a 48-45 win over the Trojans. (Photos by Jacob Musselman)

Franklin Central High School’s Rayah Kincer is coming off a banner Junior year, and is looking ahead to her senior season. As a Junior, Kincer recorded a stat line of 19 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game, Kincer was named an All-Star and participated in the state/coaches IHSAA Underclass Top 100 Showdown this summer. She was also named MVP of all Indiana Girls for the Summer AAU/Grassroots season. Finally, this August Kincer committed to play at the University of Evansville in the Missouri Valley Conference under new Head Coach Robyn Scherr-Wells.

At first glance, one could be impressed with Kincer’s ability to put her natural gifts to good use through hard work and determination. However, the story behind her accomplishments runs deeper than that.

Mid-season, her freshman year, Kincer suffered a torn ligament in her left ankle. The injury caused her to miss a 3-week portion of the season in rehab. In her sophomore season, Kincer made a hard drive to the lane where an opposing player stepped in front of her attempting to take a charge. The collision led to her tearing a ligament in her left elbow and missing the remainder of the year. After a pain-staking year of rehab, Kincer had yet another season cut short. This time, it was due to testing positive for COVID-19.

Despite several adversities, Rayah said that during rehab she never feared re-injury and saw it as just another set-back that she had to overcome.

Rayah Kincer runs out during player introductions Nov. 2, 2021, at Center Grove High School in Greenwood. (Photo by Jacob Musselman)

“My mindset was that I love the game of basketball so much, and I couldn’t imagine life without it,” Kincer said. “It was as if I did not have a choice but to return even stronger. I have always been very big on weight training and plyometrics. I think my strength and conditioning  allowed me to come back quicker and play confidently going all out with no fear”

Kincer’s story is defined by her ability to power through every kind of setback a high school athlete could go through and more, while continuing a steady pace towards her ultimate goals. Fred Kincer, Rayah’s father, believes this journey his daughter has had so far is another part of what makes her special.

“Everyone always knew how talented Rayah was but adversity like this really makes or breaks an athlete. Rayah’s mental toughness and work ethic are off the charts. She lives in the training room and the gym,” Fred said.

Rayah received offers from many Division-1 Schools and many more were waiting to see which players would come and go with their extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19. Rayah however, felt the next step in her basketball career was clearly before her.

“I had some bigger schools wanting me to wait before I committed somewhere as they waited to see what happened with their players receiving an extra year due to COVID-19. However, I didn’t need to wait. I knew Evansville was the place for me. They were at every single game I played this summer. They are in a rebuilding mode, and wanted me to be a lead part of that vision. I want to play right away.”

Rayah Kincer goes up to the basket Nov. 2, 2021, at Center Grove High School in Greenwood. The Flashes came out with a 48-45 win over the Trojans. (Photos by Jacob Musselman)

The Evansville Purple Aces are turning a new chapter in their program’s history after hiring ex Florida International assistant coach Robyn Scherr-Wells. This will be Scherr-Wells first time as a head coach of a Division one team and she is hoping to improve upon a 3-26 record. 

FCHS head Women’s basketball coach Vince Cerbone is excited for the upcoming season and to see what is next for Kincer.

“Rayah has already had a great career for the Flashes. When you look at her accomplishments, you have to factor in the adversity she has overcome. She is truly a special all-around talent. In all 20 years I have been coaching, I’ve never seen a player work harder at their game. I think her best days are ahead of her.”

Rayah’s father shared this optimism about his daughter’s final year for the Flashes, as Rayah has finally come into a season with no setbacks or outstanding obstacles to overcome. This is the first time in 3 years Rayah has got to enjoy a normal offseason.

Rayah Kincer looks at the referee after getting tripped running after the ball Nov. 2, 2021, at Center Grove High School in Greenwood. The Flashes came out with a 48-45 win over the Trojans. (Photos by Jacob Musselman)

Fred explained “She is still getting better and better. She has gotten a lot stronger and quicker. Her skill set is second to none.  She is just starting to hit her stride, but her fight against adversity is what I am proud of the most.”

Franklin Central opened up their season Nov. 2 with a 48-45 win against Center Grove. Watching Rayah play, you wouldn’t ever know she tore a ligament in her ankle her freshman year. Kincer isn’t afraid of driving to the basket while getting double or triple teamed.

Although various points in her high school career have been cut short, her senior year is set up to be her best and final season with the Flashes.