Bolivar head coach Robby Hoegh was standing at the other side of the court when he heard a smack so loud that it echoed throughout the gym.
When he recognized where the sound came from, his stomach dropped. His star player, maybe the best player in southwest Missouri, had taken an elbow to the face.
Kyle Pock, a 6-foot-5 junior wing, took an elbow straight to the face from one of the biggest and strongest players on the team.
"I could hear the crunch," Hoegh said.
Pock went to the doctor that night, leaving Hoegh to just Google timelines for the different injuries that he might have suffered. He thought Pock might have to be in a mask for a little bit while he also started to mentally prepare for the possibility of being without him until late January.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL COVERAGE
All the worries went away when he got the text: "Coach, don't worry, I'll be playing."
"It's like, 'oh thanks, Kyle, I'll sleep better tonight,'" Hoegh laughed.
On Wednesday evening, Pock and the defending Class 5 runner-up Liberators took the court for the first time this season during their first game of the Willard Basketball Classic.
Without a mask and with just a black eye, Pock still looked like the best player southwest Missouri has to offer and that he's in a position to have the type of season he's destined for.
Pock scored 26 points while sitting out the majority of the second half with the Liberators cruising to a 64-33 win over Smith-Cotton. He had 24 points at halftime when Smith-Cotton only had 19 as a team.
Pock did everything on the court from knocking down 3's, to defending the post, to being the team's point guard and creating for others. It's not difficult to see why he's one of the most coveted prospects in the area.
"I'm just continuing to expand my game out," Pock said. "My 3-point shot, pull-up game has definitely gotten better. I'm just being a more vocal leader on the floor."
The Bolivar superstar spent his summer with MOKAN Elite, which is regarded as one of the top AAU programs in the country. He played on the biggest of AAU stages when participating in the Peach Jam alongside five-star recruits.
His college stock continues to rise as he's visited Clemson, Drake, Furman and Missouri State. He's also been in constant contact with Virginia, Purdue, Lipscomb and Mizzou.
"It's a lot of fun when coaches call," Pock said. "Not every kid gets that opportunity, so I'm thankful for it."
Pock has been a starter for the Liberators since he was a freshman. Hoegh remembers Pock, as an eighth-grader, asking him what he had to do in order to make the varsity roster. In the back of Hoegh's mind, he knew Pock would be a starter the second he stepped foot in the high school.
Before a team camp his freshman year, Pock's mom asked Hoegh if he made a mistake by putting her son with the varsity team. Hoegh's eyes lit up and said, "He's going to start from day one."
"He's always been wide-eyed with this," Hoegh said. "To me, his biggest growth is that he hasn't lost that and that he's still our hardest worker, he's the most eager teammate. He's like a sponge and is a learner."
Pock goes into his junior season with the area spotlight on him. Gone are the likes of Greenwood's Aminu Mohammed and Kickapoo's Anton Brookshire, who were two of the greatest players to come through the area.
The time for Pock to be southwest Missouri's best has arrived. He has an opportunity to climb up those ranks over these next two seasons as he's the star player on one of the best teams in the state.
The one thing you can bet on is that he'll wear a smile on his face while doing so.
And for the next few weeks, he'll be wearing that black eye with it.
"I told him as a freshman that he's going to be as good as he wants to be because he cares about others," Hoegh said. "I told him to enjoy it and to not allow this stuff to impact his joy for the game. These four years of high school goes quick, those four years of college will go quick, and, hey, I wouldn't put anything past Kyle. The guy just keeps getting better every year."
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at email@example.com or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He's also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Kyle Pock: Bolivar High School basketball star ready to rise to top