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Warder's game does the talking

Senior Nicole Warder led Hudson to a district title and the regional semifinals this season. But you wouldn't know that by talking to her.

Talking isn't Nicole Warder's game. Basketball is. And that makes it difficult to tell just how good a player she is by listening to her.

She can't speak about her outstanding four years as a starter in Hudson's backcourt because she doesn't think about them.

She can't talk about the three winning seasons, two playoff appearances or her first district championship. She scored her 1,000th career point this season, but she's mum on that subject as well.

The shooting guard doesn't know quite what to say about being named the Sunshine Athletic Conference 2001 Player of the Year or about being named the Times Pasco County Player of the Year.

That's because to Warder, basketball is a game that occupies her body, not her mind.

When she drops a three-pointer in an opponent's face, when she's dishing off a fast-break assist, when she strips the ball from a foe in the paint and when she rallies her teammates, she's not thinking about those or any of the other countless plays she has made in four years as a Cobra.

Instead, she's relying on instincts and reflexes.

They have served her well, especially this season, which was the best of four pretty good years.

"When I think too much, I get too confused," she said. "I play better, I work better, when my head is clear."

One thing Warder isn't confused about is that the 2000-01 campaign was her best ever. Sorry, not her best, but rather the team's best since she first donned the red and gold.

"This is the best season I've had, and there were a lot of accomplishments," she said. "But as far as the team goes, it was our best record and the farthest we went (in the playoffs).

"I'm not big on my individual goals. I'm more on helping the team get better."

This season, she certainly helped that process along.

Hudson compiled a 19-7 record, won the Class 4A, District 9 championship over Ebony Adams' Pasco squad and won the playoff opener 63-57 over North Marion.

Only the No. 2-ranked team in the state, Titusville Astronaut, could derail Hudson's dream season in a 67-30 loss in the regional semifinals.

Before the season, Warder signed with Division II Rollins College. After the season, she earned the SAC Player of the Year honors over Adams and Ridgewood's Alayna Sherwood. Warder was certainly deserving, averaging 16.5 points, 4 assists and 3.5 steals per game.

Yet as Hudson coach Doreen Grote knows, individual honors are not what Warder works so hard for.

"I think she's very unselfish," the coach said. "She would rather see her team do well than herself. She doesn't like the limelight to be on her, though she appreciates all the accolades. The last place she wants to be is the center of attention."

Watching Warder play this season, Grote said she was most impressed by the senior's maturation.

"She always hustles, she always gives it 100 percent all the time," Grote said. "But this year she really matured as a player. She kept her focus on winning games instead of losing her head to a frustrating referee's call.

"She was more focused on the game."

NICOLE WARDER BY THE NUMBERS

The Cobras have enjoyed a 57-40 run with Nicole Warder starting the past four years, during which time she compiled an impressive array of statistics:

+ 1,375 career points

+ 354 assists

+ 299 steals

+ 116 three-pointers

+ 14.2 points per game career average

+ 4-year starter

+ 4-time Times Pasco and North Suncoast first-teamer

+ 3 winning seasons

+ 2 playoff appearances

+ 1 district title

+ 1 Sunshine Athletic Conference Player of the Year Award (2000-01)

School's all-time leading scorer.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Doreen Grote, Hudson, 12th year

SECOND TEAM

G _ Jen Barrett, Fr., Hudson

G _ Crystal Ayers, Fr., Ridgewood

G _ Joeyn Dearsman, Ridgewood

F _ Angela Dodd, Jr., Gulf

C _ Alison Foster, Sr.,

Land O'Lakes

HONORABLE MENTION

Gulf _ Lacey Arena; Hudson _ Lauren Bislick, Alison Baker; Land O'Lakes _ Rachel Rogala; Mitchell _ Moira Gustin, Amanda Casler; Pasco _ Alicia Badger, Shamara Craig; Ridgewood _ Meagan Keane; River Ridge _ Brandi Young, Nicolette Tsambis; Wesley Chapel _ Jamie Freund

FIRST TEAM

G _ Nicole Warder, Sr., Hudson

The Cobras all-time leading scorer carried the team to one of its best seasons ever; her shooting rallied Hudson to first playoff win.

G _ Jessica Clancy, Jr., Zephyrhills

Played point guard, center and forward for Bulldog team, was second in the county with 10.3 rebounds a game while averaging 10.5 point and 3.1 blocks.

C _ Jen Sessa, Sr., Ridgewood

Imposing 6-foot-1 presence, did the dirty work for the Rams, leading the team in rebounding with 9.1 and averaging 10.4 points.

F _ Alayna Sherwood, Sr., Ridgewood

Became school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder while anchoring Rams impressive three-year run; averaged 17 points and 7.9 rebounds.

F _ Ebony Adams, Sr., Pasco

Led Pasco County in scoring for second straight season with 20 ppg and once again had to carry load for Pirates in leading them back to playoffs.

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