New year, new team, new chance

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With the 2011-2012 season at its end and the 2012-2013 season looming over the horizon, the time has come to welcome new freshmen to the TexAnn basketball program and to say goodbye to old faces.

After spending four years with most of the graduating seniors head TexAnn basketball coach Ronnie Hearne is forced to say goodbye.

“They definitely know how much they mean to me,” said Hearne. “I told everyone of them that I loved them and I’d miss them and that I don’t want them to be strangers. I want them to keep coming back. I think [the graduates] will come back and see us pretty often.”

One graduating senior was four-year member Shelby Adamson who Hearne referred to as, “one of those once-in-a-lifetime players for a coach… She’s a tremendous leader, tremendous competitor and a great student.”

Hearn continued saying, “I feel blessed to be able to be around her for the past four years. There were so many things she gave to our program besides being a great player.”

In most cases, losing a leader as instrumental as Shelby Adamson would be absolutely devastating to a Division II team. However, a stroke of luck brought Shelby’s younger sister, Peyton Adamson to Tarleton State to play basketball for the 2011-2012 season.

“They [Shelby and Peyton] have a lot of similarities but they have a lot of differences,” said Hearne. “They’re similar in that they’re both competitors, they play extremely hard… and they love to be out on the court. But they’re totally different players. Shelby was more of a slasher, driver type player. She’d probably rather pass than shoot the basketball. Peyton is more of a scorer. She’s a great three-point shooter and has great range on her shots.”

Also leading the team alongside Peyton Adamson are Kiara Wright and Brianna Bledsoe. “[Wright] knows how to play the game… and she’s a great player,” said Hearne. “[Bledsoe’s] not quite as verbal as some players but I think she’s capable of being a leader.”

All four of the graduating seniors were guards so while looking for freshmen recruits, guards were on the top of Hearne’s wish list. In the end Hearne signed four guards and one post. He anticipates that two of the guards are going to get quite a bit of playing time, including Mansfield graduate Keyra Johnson.

West Texas A&M, a Tarleton rival, had their eye on Johnson. Johnson’s basketball coach is in the West Texas A&M hall of fame so it was quite a battle to get her to Tarleton.

“It’s always tough,” Hearne said. “Recruiting’s competitive. There’s a lot of other good programs out there. Most of these freshmen that we signed, some other schools wanted them.”

Now the task of making 17 athletes into one team begins. “You need to develop that team chemistry and the older players need to take the younger players under their wing,” said Hearne.

As for the coming season, Hearne is confident about his team’s ability. “You expect to really do well,” said Hearne. “The competition is so great but with what we’ve got coming back and the quality of freshmen coming in, I think our chances are as good as anybody.”