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Freshman hooper remarkable at AHS

February 12, 2015

by Becky Wisniewski

As Albany High freshman, Bridget Whelan prepares for her next varsity basketball game Friday night, a slew of thoughts run through her head.  As one of the top scorers for the Lady Falcons, Whelan has been working hard with her teammate for the upcoming match against Averill Park.

As a shooting guard, it is 15-year-old Whelan’s job to take numerous outside shots.  The team creates openings during plays for Whelan to attempt baskets.

Whelan has scored 42 3-point baskets for a total of 126 points this season.  She has also scored 30 additional points throughout the season leaving Whelan with a grand total of 156 total points and counting.  Without the help and support of her teammates, Whelan said she would not post such good numbers.

An example of the cohesive atmosphere on the team is demonstrated in teammate, Kiersten Gordon, a junior for the Lady Falcons.  As a guard, it is Gordon’s role to make assists and to make sure her teammates are open for a shot.

Bridget Whelan is a notable freshman player./Becky Wisniewski

Bridget Whelan is a notable freshman player./Becky Wisniewski

“I know how she plays.  I set screens for her,” Gordon said.

Setting screens is not the only thing that Gordon does.  She also serves as a role model for Whelan, showing her the ropes in not only basketball, but also in high school.

Despite her talent, Whelan does not keep track of the points she scores during the game.  Instead, she focuses on the game itself rather than her individual statistics.

At a mere height of 5’5, Whelan averages 9.2 points per game.  This puts her well above of the national average of 4.28.  Whelan’s numbers also rank her 7th in Section II.

Notably, Whelan also set a record for the most 3-point baskets in one basketball game at Albany High.  She scored seven 3-point baskets for a total of 21 points to help contribute to the Lady Falcons victory over Guilderland late last month.

“The girls were playing open opportunities for me.  They played an important role,” said Whelan.  During that game, Whelan sunk five 3-point baskets sequentially in just the first quarter of the game, bringing up the excitement.

Third year Lady Falcon girls’ varsity basketball coach, Decky Lawson, is impressed with Whelan’s shooting ability at such a young age. He said Whelan is a major contributor to the Lady Falcon’s success this season.  He attributes this to her skills and work ethic that motivate her to take shot after shot.  Even as a freshmen, Whelan is setting the tone of what is expected not only on the team, but in Section II.

“You tell her to go through a wall, and she’ll do it.  That is one thing that makes her special,” Lawson said.

Whelan is constantly working hard in every practice, every game. She likes to focus on other aspects of her game other than shooting such as working on her defensive skills and making more stops and steals.

“I want to keep improving and setting new goals,” Whelan said.

Whelan has not always been a Lady Falcon.  A graduate of Mater Christi School, Whelan chose Albany High over a list of other prestigious schools.

Whelan’s decision was based on a few factors.  She knew there were many educational opportunities at Albany High as well as the profound success of the Lady Falcon basketball team under Coach Lawson.

Whelan in front of her home basket./Becky Wisniewski

Whelan in front of her home basket./Becky Wisniewski

Albany High athletic director, Kathy Ryan, is proud of the achievements of not only her athletic programs, but also of her student athletes.

“Our girls’ basketball team is one of the best in the Capital Region, but more important, Albany High School has the best academic programs in the Capital Region.  Academically, you can’t beat Albany High for the diversity of course offerings,” Ryan said.

Whelan’s mother, Kim Whelan, can recall Whelan playing around with a basketball ever since she was a little girl.  Whelan was excited to start playing organized games as young as third grade.  She began her journey playing CYO ball for Mater Christi.

“Witnessing our child having success certainly fills us with pride, but there is a greater feeling of happiness knowing that she will be happy and satisfied with herself,” said Kim Whelan.

When Bridget is not shooting baskets on the court, she enjoys reading and writing.  With a passion for English, Whelan has many academic options to pursue at Albany High.

As the season progresses, it is Whelan’s goal to continue to improve and help bring her team to win the Section II championship over rival, Shenendehowa.

In their next home game the Lady Falcons take on Avril Park Friday at 7 p.m. in the Albany High School gym.  The game is $2 for students and $3 for adults. -30-

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