By Dave Ricci firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Alanna Herne is one of a kind.
That extraordinarily rare breed who excels in every sport she plays. Soccer, hockey, basketball, lacrosse, softball — you name it she can do it.
And she does it better than most.
Which is why Alanna Herne of Tonawanda High School is the 2013-14 News Player of the Year for girls basketball.
The point guard for the Lady Warriors, who went 17-6 this season (.736 winning %), Herne was the catalyst for Tonawanda, helping it claim its first ever sectional titles, winning the Section VI Class B1 and B overall crowns, and making its first trip to the Far West Regionals.
But while being part of a team that made school history was something Herne takes pride in, she said the simple day to day moments with her teammates are what really made this season memorable.
“I wouldn’t want to spend it any other way than with my team,” said Herne, who was also the News 2013 soccer Player of the Year. “They really had my back through everything. So we helped each other get (to Regionals).”
Herne did her talking on the floor but she also knew when, and how, to do it in the locker room.
Down 28-21 to Buffalo Arts at halftime in the Class B-1 semifinal game that was played at Sweet Home High School, it was Herne who stood up at in the locker room and gave the speech that rallied the troops and saved the season.
“That Buffalo Arts game, (we) coaches said about two things then let her do the rest,” said Lady Warriors coach Jay Hall. “That’s just the way she is. She takes charge and she’s a great leader.”
Herne brings the intangibles that can’t be measured on a stat sheet. She knows what to say to get the most out of those around her and has a way of making every girl believe that nothing and no one can stop them when they work as one.
“It just kind of rolls off my tongue,” Herne said. “But I just try my best to keep everyone’s heads in the game.”
“Alanna definitely knows the right thing to say and the right time,” said Herne’s best friend, Kalyn Compeau. “We were down some games, like our sectional game (against Arts). She knew exactly what to say and we literally picked our butts up and got back on top. She definitely deserves that captains role and she definitely deserves Player of the Year. She’s an amazing athlete and an amazing person.”
Herne certainly had the numbers to back up her selection. Herne led the Warriors in points (281), her 127 assists were a new single-season record. Herne had 58 steals and 68 of her 78 rebounds were on the defensive end.
If you taught Herne a sport at 10 a.m., by 11 she’s mastered it, and by noon she’s teaching others. But Herne has never been the type of girl who would rub her exceptional skills in the face of girls who weren’t as talented. Herne always did what she could to boost a teammate’s confidence and help her get better.
“She’s always helping people here,” said Hall. “Telling them what to do or find a way to improve their game.”
Herne said it’s important for teammates to help and encourage each other because everyone brings something special and important to the table.
“Everyone has something to bring,” said Herne. “Whether it be speed, what I lack someone else has. It’s very helpful to try and build people up. I also expect compliments or guidance. It’s easy to do when you’re friendly with (and it feels like) family on a team.”
Funny and outgoing, Herne could always be counted on to give the team a laugh when it’s needed the most. And she’s the kind of girl, and friend, you can always depend on for anything.
“Me and Alanna have been best friends since seventh grade,” said Compeau. “Growing up with her and playing all these sports together, I couldn’t ask for anyone better to grow up with and share all of these victories and accomplishments with.”
The night before the Warriors played in the program’s first-ever Far West Regional game, Herne was keenly aware of how special this season was. But she also said that years from now, when she gathers with teammates and they reflect on this magical season, the best part won’t be talking about the number of wins or titles won.
The best part will be reliving those memories together. Just like how they were made.
“Absolutely,” Herne said with a smile. “I love em all. I can’t explain how much I love my team. They are amazing people.”