Decade’s best No. 8: Sami Lane put together solid career at Loyalsock in girls basketball

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a series looking back at the Top 10 girls basketball teams, coaches, games and players from the last decade.

Her father believed more than she did. Sami Lane kept growing better each year, but for her, all-state was for other players.

She just kept working and eventually all that work led to quite a surprise and a well-deserved honor.

Lane put together a magnificent scholastic career from 2008-11 and capped it by cementing her status as one of the program’s all-time players. Lane earned 2011 second team Class AA all-state honors after helping Loyalsock reach the state tournament for a fourth straight time. It was the culmination of countless hours spent practicing and a springboard to a successful collegiate career at Lock Haven. Lane was the first Loyalsock player be selected all-state since Jill McElhinny in 1989 and the last before Summer McNulty achieved it last winter. She was a worthy candidate, too, helping Loyalsock reach a third district final in four years, leading Loyalsock in nearly every statistical category and setting an energetic tone with her relentless hustle.

“That’s definitely an awesome feeling to be one of the few in Loyalsock to get it. I honestly never expected it,” Lane said after receiving the honor. “I just went out and played and hoped for the best. My dad said all-state should be a goal of mine, but I told him, ‘That’s never going to happen.'”

Lane made it happen.

One of the fastest point guards to play last decade, Lane was outstanding at getting to the basket and also could light things up from outside or shred defenses with her passing. Lane helped Loyalsock win at least 19 games in each of her four seasons and it captured two district and two league championships during that time. She also was Loyalsock’s last 1,000-point scorer until Maddie Fox reached that milestone in 2019.

“Sami is an outstanding basketball player,” former Loyalsock coach Demarr Wright said in 2011. “I think she’s the best guard hands down in this area.”

That ascent started in 2008 when Lane was a valuable reserve for a team which 26-3 and captured the District 4 championship. A year later, Lane was the team’s starting point guard, averaging in double figures while leading the team in assists and steals as Loyalsock again reached the state tournament.

Lane was quickly becoming one of the district’s top players as the new decade came and enhanced her credentials throughout her junior season. The quarterback of an explosive offense, Lane repeatedly made big plays and good decisions as Loyalsock overcame a slow start, went 21-7 and won 19 of 21 games while winning another district title and reaching the second round of states. Lane was among the area’s leaders in scoring and assists and frequently sparked the transition game with her swarming defense.

Lane consistently was good, but she became great in Loyalsock’s most demanding games. In addition to shining throughout the postseason, Lane delivered two outstanding performances in thrilling wins against defending district champion South Williamsport and Maryland-bound Tierney Pfirman. The Lancers overcame nine-point deficits each game and Lane topped 20 points both times.

Lane was at her best in the rematch that year, scoring 13 of her team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter as Loyalsock rallied for a 66-59 win. Lane drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2 minutes, 20 seconds remaining after the lead had changed hands seven times in the fourth quarter. She also converted a 3-point play and made seven straight shots from the field and line to open the fourth. She also produced six rebounds, five steals and four assists.

“I was out there just thinking about trying to beat them again,” Lane said. “It’s a great rivalry and just playing against them gets me ready and pumped up. The way it was going, I thought it was going to be somebody winning at the buzzer. It was a great game.”

And Lane continued delivering great performances as a senior.

All-star forward Keely Henninger had graduated so defenses could focus most of their attention on slowing down Lane. It didn’t matter. Lane enjoyed her best season, averaging 17.4 points per game and again being among area leaders in steals and assists. And Lane literally could not be slowed down. She played at a furious pace and treated each possession like it was her last.

Lane played basketball like it was a track meet and threw her body all over the court trying to help her team win. She helped Loyalsock do that again as it went 19-8, captured the HAC-II title and reached another district final.

And when the brights were lightest, Lane again shined brightest. The night she scored her 1,000th career point proved it yet again. Lane needed 26 points to reach 1,000 while playing against a Central Columbia team which nearly beat it in the semifinals that year. Lane needed 10 points to reach 1,000 in the fourth quarter and made it look easy. She opened the quarter with a 3-pointer before converting three straight layups. Fittingly the milestone basket came when Lane was sprinting up court, taking an assist from Megan McKernan before nearly running into the wall below the 1,000-point scorers’ banner. It took Lane just 32 seconds to score those final six points.

“It was so exciting. I had so many emotions and it was just great,” Lane said. “Knowing that people will remember me when they come in and see the banner is pretty special.”

“She’s so hard to stop. She shoots the ball from outside well and she drives well,” Wright said. “She scored her 1,000th point the way that she plays and that’s non-stop for 32 minutes and getting out in transition and hustling and it’s great to see that happen.”

Lane was talented, but also a tough leader. That year’s South-Loyalsock rematch was moved to Williamsport because the hype was so big and Lane stole the show late. Despite injuring her calf late in the fourth quarter, Lane dominated in overtime, scoring eight straight points and helping Loyalsock win, 70-63. She finished with 29 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, displaying both her explosiveness and her tenacity.

“I felt it (pain) but I just pushed through,” Lane said. “I love playing this tempo and with the big crowd here it was great. Nobody would give up. It pretty much seemed like it should go into overtime. It was pretty much what people expected to happen.”

“I was really impressed,” Loyalsock guard Mackenzie Yaw said after scoring 17 points. “I knew she was going to do it because she’s the kind of person who’s dedicated and works hard and she left it all on there on the floor.”

Lane continued doing that until the final second of her final high school game. Playing against eventual state finalist Dunmore, Lane scored a game-high 18 points and ignited a fourth-quarter comeback. It seemed appropriate that her final basket came on a hustling drive late which put Loyalsock up by two. Dunmore rallied and won, 52-46, but Lane’s performance against the perennial state power solidified her place among the state’s best that year.

“I have yet to see a point guard as fast with the basketball and in transition,” Wright said. “You don’t see a lot of guards who can push the ball like she can. She’s the best point guard that I’ve seen and she’s one of the best guards in the state.”

Looks like father knew best.


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