It would be very difficult for Hammond senior Alyssa Crosby to top her performance from last season.
Crosby led the Red Devils to the Section 10 Class D championship with a stunning individual performance. She helped her team overcome a 43-18 halftime deficit in a semifinal game against defending champion Chateaugay and finished with 35 points and 12 rebounds in a 59-56 win. In the Section 10 championship game against Hermon-DeKalb she scored 30 points, snagged 17 rebounds and had six steals in a 53-50 victory.
For the season, Crosby averaged 23.6 points, 5 steals, 4.5 assists and 3 blocked shots a game for the Red Devils.
But she is not worried about trying to be better than she was a year ago. She has worked at improving her game and has already put last season out of her mind.
This is a different year, Crosby said. Were a day-to-day team.
Both Crosby and her coach, Shawn Dack, are soft spoken and let results do most of the talking.
While Dack was as impressed as anyone with how Crosby played in the playoffs, the coach in him, a man who has led Hammond to state titles in 2007 and 2008, also saw the downside of one player taking over games.
You dont really want to see that, Dack said. Hopefully the rest of the team this year can step up and be more of a factor in that time. But thats a long ways away.
Crosby, who is 5-feet-11, is an ideal player for Dack. She works hard, like he does. She doesnt brag about herself, and she cares more about what her team does than any individual attention she may gain.
Its been a great experience, Crosby said of playing for Dack. Hes been my coach since the fourth grade. He helps everybody get better. He points out our weaknesses and helps us work on them. We all know every game is not perfect, that we can do better. We get better that way.
Said Dack of Crosby, Shes an old-school player. She is one were going to miss when she leaves. I wish she had four more years.
Crosby has been going to Hammond basketball games pretty much her entire life. When she was a toddler, she went with her family to Glens Falls to watch her uncle, Matt Dillon, play in a state Class D championship game.
I love the sport, Crosby said. I dont know how to put that in words. I was in the fourth grade when I started joining teams. Even when I was younger I loved the game.
Crosby also was at both girls state championship games sitting in the bleachers rooting with the rest of the Red Devil fans.
Last years state playoff appearance was nice for Hammond, but the Red Devils want to go farther this year.
We know we have the potential, Dack said. The kids work hard. They do what you ask them to do. I know if we could have gotten by (Section 2s) Argyle, we would have had a clear shot at a good run. Hopefully we can grow from that.
Hammond needs to look no farther than its best player for an example of hard work.
Alyssa gives 100 percent all the time, Dack said. It doesnt matter what it is. She gives the school everything she can possibly give and leaves nothing in the tank. Other girls see that and they feed off it. We just try to get that ball rolling and keep rolling.
Dack said Crosby is respectful and polite on and off the court. Sometimes shes too nice, he added. But overall, her good example pays off during games.
She doesnt say a word, Dack said. You can tell her this is what you have to do and shell shake her head and go get it done. She doesnt talk back. She is not disrespectful. She never gestures to the officials or anything. She can get knocked to the floor and she stands up and plays and keeps pushing forward.
Being a senior means that this is also decision time for Crosby, who is sure to attract college attention if she has another year like last season.
Im still undecided, Crosby said. Ive narrowed it down to (studying) athletic training or accounting. Ive talked to a couple coaches, one from (Jefferson Community College) and Fredonia.
SECTION 10 OUTLOOK
Crosby had a great year last year but she was one of many non-seniors who played big roles on their teams last season.
Defending Class A champion Massena brings back Alisha Jacobs and Marissa Manley.
Class B champion Salmon River returns Abby Kelly and Class C champion Tupper Lake brings back Katie Stuart.
Other top players from last year who are back include: Chateaugays Courtney Boyea and Hannah Cook, Clifton-Fines Hunter Hitchman, Harrisvilles Kathleen Coloney, OFAs Megan Dodge, Cantons Emily Rexford and St. Lawrence Centrals Breanna Vater.
Malone and Massena figure to be the top teams in the Central Division though defending Class B champion Salmon River has moved into that division this season.
Tupper Lake and Madrid-Waddington are the top returning teams in the North Division, while Chateaugay is the top team in the East.
The West will contested by Hammond, Hermon-DeKalb and Heuvelton.