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Cerebral approach: Jennifer Hansen 'just knows the game'

As the final seconds ticked down in a 75-47 playoff loss to Argonaut, Le Grand senior Jennifer Hansen was too numb to contemplate that her high school basketball career was over. It didn't hit her the next day, or the day after that. It took about a week for the realization to sink in.

"It wasn't just that I wasn't going to be playing high school basketball again," Hansen said. "It was that I wasn't going to be playing any basketball again.

"It's something that's been a big part of my life for a long time.

"It all really hit me, and I got down for a bit. I realized I really did need to keep playing

"Wherever I end up going to school, I'm going to try and play."

Le Grand girls basketball coach Danny Crosby and Hansen are still trying to work out an athletic scholarship somewhere.

If, however, that doesn't come to fruition, the LG honor student -- who can basically pick her academic scholarship -- has decided she'll attempt to walk on.

The two schools at the top of Hansen's list are Cal and Stanford. Both women's basketball teams just made an appearance in the NCAA tournament, with Stanford advancing to Sunday's Final Four.

"I like (Hansen's) chances of walking on somewhere," Crosby said. "Jennifer will be a blessing for any school she joins.

"Her court awareness, her ability to keep her teammates involved, her desire and work ethic. She just knows the game."

The numbers agree with Crosby.

Hansen averaged 19.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 3.9 steals per game in her senior season.

She also helped lead Le Grand to its second straight undefeated Southern League campaign.

All of that earned Hansen her second straight Sun-Star Girls Basketball Player of the Year honors.

"(Hansen's) always been an inspirational leader, on and off of the court," junior guard Miranda Flores said. "We won three league championships together. We've gone far in the playoffs. She's definitely going to be missed.

"The thing I think we all learned from Jennifer is to play every game like it's your last."

No better statement may sum up Hansen.

Hansen plays basketball with such ferocity it's impossible to believe she's shy and private off of the court.

Hansen finished her four-year varsity career with 1,413 points, 916 rebounds and 439 assists.

Some or all could be Le Grand records, but Crosby has no way to confirm them.

Despite all the gaudy numbers, what makes Hansen so special are the little things she does to help her team win.

Be it diving on the ground, setting screens or just playing tenacious defense, Hansen happily gives up her body.

Her nose has been rearranged a couple times over the years -- and still, Hansen wouldn't have it any other way.

"My favorite thing to do in basketball is to take a charge," Hansen said. "I love being there, asking them to come into me.

"Then there's the drama where you sell it a little bit.

"I just think when someone draws a charge it picks the whole team up."

That's the mentality that Crosby hopes Hansen's teammates absorb.

"I don't think we've had a female athlete like Jennifer since Martha Monzo," Crosby said. "Teammates, fans, friends, the town, all of them have been impacted by Hansen.

"There's still people that come up to me and ask about her, people that didn't get to see her play.

"Watching her evolution over the last four years has been amazing."

Now Hansen just hopes she can keep evolving -- somewhere on a basketball court.

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