MOUNT VERNON — Every once in a while a player with special abilities comes along. When that happens, it is up to that player to put those abilities to good use.
Danville High School senior Tracy Payne is one of those special players, and she has put her abilities to the test for the last three seasons on the Blue Devils basketball court. Each year, Payne has improved and taken her game to the next level. This season, Payne continued her ascent to be the area’s best and for her efforts she has been selected as the 2008-09 Mount Vernon News All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Payne, a three-time Mount Vernon News All-Area First Team selection, helped lead Danville to a 15-7 mark this season, a 10-game improvement over its 2007-08 record. The Blue Devils also tied for third in the Mid-Buckeye Conference this season with a 9-5 mark.
“She was a very good leader for us,” said Danville coach Scott Ewing. “Her knowledge and understanding of the game really wore off on our other players. She got a lot of our players’ respect and they looked up to her. She was our leader on the floor and off.
“We had four captains this year, but when it came to decision time, they all looked to Tracy as the senior and let her decide,” Ewing added.
Payne became a more complete player, improving her rebounding, assists and steals totals while averaging nearly 20 points a game. Her 19.5 points per game average was tops among all area players — boys or girls — and she crossed the 1,000-point mark for her career. She was the area scoring champion with 384 points in 20 games.
“We talked over the summer and (Tracy) knew we were going to have some other scorers, so she worked hard on her rebounding and other areas,” said Ewing. “Scorers are a dime-a-dozen when it comes to the next level. She knew she had to work on some things and she accomplished it. Her rebounds went up, steals went up and assists went up. ... Scoring 1,000 points is a big thing.”
Payne’s abilities have led to many awards for her this season. She has been named the Division III District 11 Player of the Year and was a Second Team All-Ohio selection. Ewing has only coached Payne for two of her three seasons, but knows how special she is.
“Having a player like Tracy was like having another coach out there on the floor,” said Ewing. “She is going to be greatly missed. She brought so much to our game and to our team. Her leadership, skills and decision making made her a great player. She is the best player I’ve ever coached. ... I think she has left a big imprint (on the program). People are already talking about who is going to be the next Tracy Payne at the elementary level. You only get a player [like that] every so often in your coaching career.”
The All-Area Girls Coach of the Year honor went to Michelle Snow of Utica. Snow led the Redskins to another MBC title — her third in five seasons — and a 20-4 overall record. Utica made its second consecutive Division III Central District final appearance, falling to Marion Pleasant. Snow was named the MBC Coach of the Year for her efforts this season. This is Snow’s second Mount Vernon News award.
Joining Payne on the All-Area First Team were Highland junior Kristen Anderson senior Camaranne Myles of Centerburg, Loudonville junior Becky Orchard and junior Abbie Corbett of Utica. Second Team honors went to Chelsea Cannon, Johnstown, sr.; Mackenzie Logan, Fredericktown, sr.; Tricia Harvey, Utica, sr.; Niki DiGuilio, Mount Vernon, jr.; and Becca Mottayaw, Clear Fork, sr. Making up the Third Team were Megan Scarberry, Loudonville, so.; Sierra Mazzaro, East Knox, jr.; Courtney Dingess, Johnstown, sr.; Courtney Briegel, Fredericktown, jr.; and Kandis Walker, Utica, sr.
Receiving Honorable Mention status were Jessie Johnson, Northridge; Kirsten Siegfried, Highland; Megan Morris, East Knox; Chelsea Sager, Johnstown; Alexis VanHorn, Loudonville; Tamra Londot, Utica; Aubrey Hazen, Danville; Jhazmyn Anderson, Mount Vernon; Megan Hartley, Centerburg; and Karina Shackle, Mount Vernon.