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Moving to center stage

Normally a guard, Seminole's Jen Hansen will play a variety of spots, including in the middle.

By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 28, 2002

SEMINOLE -- Jen Hansen did not know if they would attend the game, but during the national anthem she looked in the stands and saw the West Point shirts.

College coaches were in the house. As if this district title showdown was not big enough.

But as clutch players so often do, Hansen put on a show, scoring 14 points to help Seminole defeat Boca Ciega for the Class 5A, District 10 title. The West Point folks left impressed, and later offered Hansen a scholarship, which she accepted.

Now, with her senior season under way, Hansen need not worry about the rigors of recruiting.

It's a good thing, as she might have plenty to worry about on the floor.

The 5-foot-10 guard is the tallest Warhawk, meaning she'll be more of a guard/forward/center this season.

"Jen will be used in every position, depending on who our opponent is," Seminole coach Dave Swanson said. "She's accepted that role and is excited about doing what she can to help the team win."

Some nights, that might involve playing down low and banging with the likes of Largo's Sheena Walton and Clearwater's Dominique Redding. So much for an easy senior year.

"I'm not used to it, but other than that, if it's going to help the team and the strategy, I'll do it," Hansen said.

Wherever she ends up on the floor, don't bet against Hansen succeeding. The Warhawks' leader already has enjoyed a fine career, twice being named first-team all-county by the Times.

Last year, her 19.8 points-per-game average ranked fifth in the county, and her 7.6 assists per game tied for the top spot with Clearwater's Nicole Ryan. Hansen also pulled down 6.7 rebounds per game.

For Seminole to duplicate its 23-6, district-winning season, Hansen will need to have similar numbers even though every opponent will be waiting for her.

Ever unselfish, however, Hansen hopes to attract plenty of attention. That way the rest of the team can get involved.

"We have quite a few people who know how to finish, a lot of talent," said Hansen, whose finishing prowess should move her to the top of the school's all-time scoring list sometime in December.

Alli Fogle, the team's second-leading scorer with 16.1 points per game, returns along with Beth Taylor, an inside rebounding presence. The rest of the team is stocked with shooters and ball-handlers, allowing for an up-tempo game the coach hopes will hide the shortcomings of, well, being a short team.

While it might take a while for Hansen to adjust to her new role, she has the discipline to see it through. Remember, this is a West Point signee.

"She enjoys the discipline part of the game, and you don't see that as much with kids," Swanson said. "That's what stands her apart from others.

"She handles the pressure and discipline better than anyone I've ever coached."

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