Growth, records mark hoops career
By NANCY MORGAN
Published April 8, 2007
When Jen Hansen selected the U.S. Military Academy in 2003, Seminole High's female athlete of the year hoped to contribute to the women's basketball program.
From her first year to her final season, Hansen played a key role in Army establishing itself among the best in the Patriot League.
"When I first came to the Academy, there wasn't a lot of pressure to excel," said Hansen, 22. "As you grow with the program, an increase in your performance is naturally expected. This year, I had more of a leadership role as team captain. By your fourth year, opponents know what you can do and you have to adjust and use your knowledge and experience to be able to continue to perform."
Hansen met the expectations and completed her career with a school-record 202 3-pointers and a career-record .873 free-throw shooting percentage.
"In high school I was more of a point guard and really didn't shoot many 3s," Hansen said. "Then, I started hitting them. Coach said she might move me to the 2-guard spot and that's where I've stayed. "As I gained confidence, my consistency improved. Then my overall game continued to improve. I've now been playing basketball 16 years, so confidence has definitely come into play in my performance."
In her first year at Army, Hansen stepped up to the challenge of college basketball and was named to the Patriot League all-rookie team, just the fifth Black Knight to earn the recognition.
Her second year, Hansen set a single-season school record of 65 3-pointers, followed by a stellar third year in Army's first season in Division I. This season, Hansen was the team's third-leading scorer with a 9.4 average.
Hansen's achievements came in spite of being directed by three coaches in a four-year period. After being coached by Sherri Abbey-Nowatzki her first two years, Hansen and her teammates then were led by Maggie Dixon in the 2005-06 season. After a stellar season for Army that included making the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance, the 28-year old Dixon unexpectedly died. Army rebounded with the help of Dave Magarity and posted a school-record 24 wins in a 30-game season.
Hansen graduates next month with a degree in civil engineering. After a 60-day leave she will begin her five-year active and three-year reserve duties.
SWIMMING: Kassie Schmidt Dunedin swam to a ninth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle event for Wright State in the Horizon League championships. The junior was 11th in the 100 free and swam the anchor in the 400 free relay.
- Wright State freshman Candace Thornburg (Palm Harbor University) was seventh in the 200-yard butterfly at the league championships.
- Freestyler Lindsey McKelvey (St. Petersburg) helped her UNF squad to a fifth-place finish in the Pacific Coast Swim Conference championships with her performance in the 200 free relay. The senior also swam the 50, 100 and 200 free events.
DIVING: UNF senior diver Kaila Johnston (Clearwater) placed eighth on the 1-meter and 13th on the 3-meter boards in the conference meet.
BASEBALL: For the first time in his professional career, Chris Heintz (Countryside/USF) made the Minnesota Twins' 25-man roster and joined the other major league players in opening-day activities. Heintz, 32, was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1996 and played for several teams before being signed by the Twins in 2005. Heintz primarily plays catcher, but has seen action at first, second and third bases.
Heintz joins right-hander Boof Bonser (Gibbs), who was signed by the Twins in 2003 and called up to the majors last year.
- In Yale's first 23 games, senior first baseman Marc Sawyer (Canterbury) is third on the team in hitting with a .364 average and 32 hits and is second in RBIs with 13.
- Casey Allen (Gibbs) has played in the first 37 games for Savannah College of Art and Design, mostly in rightfield. The senior is averaging .273 on 30 hits with 14 RBIs.
- Sean Barber (Lakewood) has started 13 of 24 games for Savannah in either the outfield or first base.
- In Embry-Riddle's 9-5 win over Mt. Vernon Nazarene, Kyle Albright (Seminole/Pasco Hernando CC) connected for three hits, including a home run, collected three RBIs and scored two runs. The junior pitched the final two innings and recorded three strikeouts.
- Brandon Diaz (Clearwater Central Catholic) is a backup catcher for UNF. Over 13 games, the senior is averaging .325 at the plate.
ICE HOCKEY: Forward Matt Crum of Clearwater (Salisbury High) scored two goals and collected two assists his junior season with Trinity. Through three years, Crum has scored 11 points.
VOLLEYBALL: Florida Southern 2005 graduate Rachelle Konczal (Northeast) was named volleyball coach at Lake Gibson High in Lakeland. In her senior year with the Lady Moccasins, the outside hitter was named to the Division II all-South Region team and second team all-Sunshine State Conference squad.
In four years, Konczal placed 12th in all-time blocks for Florida Southern (299) and was sixth all-time in games played (461).
TRACK: Georgia Tech senior Ashlee Kidd (St. Petersburg) ran NCAA regional qualifying times in the 400- and 200-meter races in the Yellow Jacket Invitational. Kidd won the 400 and was second in the 200. In an earlier outdoor meet, Kidd raced to a personal best in the 200 in 23.24 and ran a regional qualifying time in the 100 meters.
News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.
[Last modified April 7, 2007, 22:55:17]
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