CLIFTON PARK — Jess Wagoner caught a pass in the lane and dropped in a running hook shot as part of a game-clinching, fourth-quarter push for Shenendehowa in its 59-42 Section II Class AA girls’ basketball quarterfinal win against Niskayuna last week.
It was the senior forward’s only basket. That was fine with her.
“I’m obviously not a big shooter,” the 5-foot-11 Wagoner said. “My role is to rebound. Get assists. Kick it out to shooters. It’s everything else.”
Wagoner is part of a deep lineup that Shenendehowa (No. 1 seed, 19-2) will roll out Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in a sectional semifinal game against Colonie (No. 4, 15-6) at Hudson Valley Community College. While the three-year varsity player will certainly take her shot if she has a good look, her focus is on setting her teammates up, hitting the boards and making stops at the defensive end.
“You can’t get anywhere without the little things,” said Wagoner, whose stat line against Niskayuna included four rebounds, two steals, an assist and a blocked shot. “The little things are the most important things.”
Wagoner gives Shenendehowa a lot of things, and a lot of them are intangible. She is a team energizer and a role model for her selfless play. She brings some grittiness to the floor. She’s willing to set a hard pick or take a charge. When she gets the ball, it will soon end up in a more advantageous spot.
“When a girl is not scoring, I’m thinking, ‘Get them the ball,'” Wagoner said. “You want to show confidence in them and get them going.”
Wagoner had it going several times this winter, including when she scored a season-high 11 points when Shenendehowa handed Albany its first loss in mid-January 73-51. Wagoner also snared 10 rebounds that night.
“I’m a post player, but I’m not the tallest post player,” Wagoner said. “If I’m on a big girl down low, its, ‘Be as strong as I can. Box out and get those rebounds.'”
Wagoner will be doing that for Division II Caldwell University (N.J.) next season.
“They saw me in the spring, and liked the hustle plays, and my defense and how I was out-jumping everyone. They liked how I picked everyone up,” said Wagoner, who was playing with the AAU Albany Capitals team at the time. “I was scoring some points, too.”
Wagoner said it matters little that Shenendehowa scored more points than Colonie in two previous meetings this season. It was in the sectional semifinals last year when Shenendehowa’s season — and bid for a third straight Class AA title — was halted by Bethlehem.
“A lot of our girls saw that,” Wagoner said. “We’re not going in with the mindset that we beat Colonie twice. We are going to give it everything we have. We want to win the section after what happened last year, and we’ve got to get there first.”
Albany and Saratoga Springs will play in Wednesday’s other Class AA semifinal at 8 p.m. Before the Class AA semifinals, HVCC will also host the Class A semifinals; Amsterdam plays Queensbury at 3:30 p.m., and Averill Park plays Holy Names at 5 p.m.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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Categories: -Sports-, High School Sports, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna