Last updated: March 17. 2014 11:46PM - 3950 Views
By - psokoloski@civitasmedia.com

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She can’t belly-up to ballhandlers while playing defense for Holy Redeemer anymore, can’t drive the ball to the basket, can’t spot up and pop a three-point field goal.

All because something popped in Alana Wilson’s knee a couple months ago.

And the news that followed caused her more pain than the actual injury.

She suffered a torn ACL.

“They told me it’s a season-ending injury,” Wilson said. “From that point on, I was done.”

Or maybe she was just getting started.

Because although Wilson is out of action, she is still very much in Holy Redeemer’s state playoff plans.

“She’s meant a ton of things to us,” Holy Redeemer coach Chris Parker said. “She’s been with us all year. She’s been at our practices, keeps all of our stats at games, comes into the locker room and reads them at halftime.

“We’ve kind of just made her into an assistant coach.”

That was not the role the 5-foot-10 Wilson planned to play during her junior season.

She was going to be a second scoring option to Redeemer star Alexis Lewis, a threat to score from inside the paint this year as well as out on the perimeter, and Wilson worked tirelessly through the summer — playing AAU ball for Fencor in Philadelphia — to make sure that happened.

She started off by leading everyone on the floor with a 32-point night, and was averaging a tick under 15 points through Holy Redeemer’s first eight games. For that limited work, Wilson was voted as a Division II all-star honorable mention by the Wyoming Valley Conference coaches.

“She’s our second-best player,” Parker says without hesitation. “The kid can score the ball. She’s worked hard in the offseason. She revamped her game. She was a kid who hung around the three-point line. She got much better, her confidence improved, her ballhandling got better, she was taking the ball to the basket.”

Then it happened.

Early in Redeemer’s second league game against Nanticoke, Wilson crumpled to the floor and couldn’t get up.

“First half, first four minutes, I was running back,” Wilson, a Royals co-captain, said. “They had a fast break and I went to step on a girl to make her give up the ball. I just went down. I already had a knee injury on my other knee. I remember saying, ‘It’s not that knee. That’s not normal, what just happened.’ “

Doctors confirmed what everyone had feared. Wilson suffered a full tear of her right ACL and stretched another ligament. Her sparkling season was over just as it was getting started.

She didn’t want to believe it at first.

“At first, it was a big shock,” the daughter of David and Terry Wilson of Mountain Top said. “Part of me knew what happened. The other part was saying, ‘That couldn’t have happened.’ I was really pleased with how I was playing. That’s what me the injury tough.

“I’ve always been one to say, ‘What happens, happens, there’s not much you can do about it,’ ” Wilson continued. “(But) after awhile, it felt normal. I was trying to play on it — I asked if I could play. They pretty much cut me off — the doctor, my coach, my parents — everyone except me.”

So she played her role in other ways.

“When I first found out, I asked to help out with the JVs,” Wilson said. “I know that next year’s going to be a real big year. I enjoy helping people do their best. I wanted to be involved.”

She had surgery to repair the damage about a month ago, and was bedridden for two full weeks. But a cumbersome cast and a pair of crutches weren’t going to stop Wilson from contributing to Holy Redeemer’s first run to the PIAA Class 3A state semifinals with Tuesday’s 6 p.m. showdown against powerful Archbishop Wood.

She got involved with her replacements on the court, Sara Flannley and Julie Kosik.

“At first, they weren’t comfortable. The whole season (to that point) I had been starting,” Wilson said. “I helped to just give them confidence. They really stepped up a lot.”

And, of course, she stepped into the spot of team statistician — an endeavor she hadn’t tried before.

“No, not really,” Wilson laughed. “I just picked it up. I just helps me stay involved in the game.”

“I see her being a coach one day,” Parker said. “She’s helped the younger kids, in reference to rights and wrongs. She’s always giving the kids positive comments that help motivate them. She’s a great kid, a very smart kid who truly knows the game of basketball.

“She’s one of our leaders on this team.”

Wilson may not have been able to lead Holy Redeemer’s the charge on the state tournament floor this season. But when it comes to enthusiasm, she’s front and center among the Royals.

“Seeing them be successful is really helping me be positive,” Wilson said. “For me, it would be a lot harder if we weren’t doing well. I’m just happy with everyone else’s play. This team that we have this year is truly something special. We’re like a big family. You don’t see a team that does everything on the court together and everything off the court together like we do. Our team chemistry, right out of the gates, we didn’t have to work on playing well together.

“Even though I couldn’t play, I found ways to help them as best I could.”

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