Sky forward Jantel Lavender to undergo surgery on left foot

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Forward Jantel Lavender, a key player to the Sky’s success this season, will be out for the remainder of the regular season, the team announced Tuesday.

Lavender will undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a fracture in her left foot, which she injured in the third quarter of the Sky’s win against the Aces last Friday. Her expected recovery time is eight to nine weeks, meaning her injury is most likely season ending.

The Sky (14-10), who are fifth in the standings, will miss Lavender’s on-court presence and leadership. She’s averaged 10 points and 6.9 rebounds and has started in 22 of 23 games this season.

Coach James Wade called Lavender’s absence a “big loss.”

“Jantel’s leadership and spirit will stay with us as she gets through this injury and as we get through it as a team,” Wade said in a statement. “We are sad, but it gives her teammates the opportunity to step up in her absence. We will get through it.”

Expect forwards Astou Ndour and Cheyenne Parker to carry a bulk of Lavender’s load. Ndour started in place of Lavender for Sunday’s loss against the Sparks, tying her season-high of seven points. Parker has been a force to be reckoned with off the Sky’s bench, averaging 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds.

Wade could also utilize this year’s fourth overall pick Katie Lou Samuelson more down the stretch. Samuelson, who missed several weeks due to a wrist injury, has yet to earn consistent minutes and has played in only 10 games this season.

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