Written by Corbett Smith
Senior Alyssa Lang looks to build on Rockwall's girls basketball legacy
ROCKWALL — When Alyssa Lang was growing up, she idolized Rockwall star guard Haley Day.
Day — the 2007 Dallas Morning News Player of the Year — led Rockwall to a 40-0 season. Lang was in Austin’s Erwin Center to watch Rockwall win the 2007 Class 5A state title.
“The Haley Day,” Lang said. “Still when she walks in the room, I’m like ‘Oh my god, that’s Haley Day, that’s Haley Day.’ ”
Now, Lang is the star, helping Rockwall return to the state tournament for the first time since Day’s departure, in Thursday’s Class 4A semifinal against Victoria East.
A 6-1 post who is a four-year starter and three-year captain, Lang leads Rockwall in points (17.2 ppg) and rebounds (12.2 rpg).
Coach Jill McDill said she sees a lot of similarities between the two players. Not in their playing style — Day was a dead-eye shooter, while Lang grinds in the paint as a great post defender and rebounder — but in that they both see the Rockwall program as a legacy.
It’s not about individual honors for them, McDill said, it’s about the team and the future of the program.
“I love when the older ones care about the younger ones, and then the younger ones grow up and you keeping passing it down, passing it down,” McDill said. “That’s what we are trying to build and do.”
Lang, who has signed with Rice, is a perfect ambassador.
She has been asked to make appearances at young girls’ birthday parties.
She signs autographs after games, sticks around to shoot baskets with kids — anything to help, because Lang was one of those girls just a few years ago.
“To give back to those little girls, it gives me joy,” Lang said. “When I was little, when the high school girls came to our games, it meant so much to me. I don’t know. I just want to make a good impact in their life.”
Growing up, Lang was a “Future Lady Jacket,” part of a feeder youth program in Rockwall to energize young girls about playing basketball.
Lang vividly remembers when her seventh-grade Williams Middle School team was trying to finish the season undefeated, playing in a season-ending tournament. Right before the game, McDill and members of the Rockwall varsity walked into the gym.
“Coach McDill definitely deserves a lot of credit,” Day said. “I think it’s a great idea to get those young kids involved and excited about basketball. The atmosphere there is unbelievable. I went to college and played [at SMU], and there’s nothing like Rockwall’s fans.”
McDill hopes the stands Thursday will be filled not only with those fans, but with players in the feeder program, much like it was in 2007.
Lang, with fellow senior starters Paige Turner and Kayla Smith, can spark a new round of aspirations with the school’s second state title.
“I’m kinda living out my dream,” Lang said. “It’s crazy. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment of it — just trying to soak in all of what we are doing. But we’re still hungry. We’re not done yet.”