Rivalry is no longer just sibling

January 06, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Staff Writer

It's not easy for Ce Wagener to wake up every morning and face another day of basketball comparisons to her sister Melanee.

Ce is barely 15 years old and is just beginning to develop her own identity as a 6-foot-1 basketball player at South Carroll.

Melanee is 24 years old, was a high school girls basketball All-America at South Carroll, played on two University of Virginia teams that finished second in the nation in Division I, played a year of pro basketball in Spain, and is now an assistant women's coach at American University.

But Ce has been dealing with comparisons to Melanee since she was 9 -- when Melanee became South Carroll's first All-America in any sport and received a scholarship to play for Virginia.

"When I was 9 and just playing rec ball, people would ask me if I was as good as Melanee," said Ce. "I would say 'Not yet, but some day I'll be better.'"

When Ce entered the ninth grade last year at South Carroll and made the girls varsity team, the comparisons started again on a small scale because Ce was used by coach Al Skierski in a reserve role all season.

However, that all changed a month ago when Wagener took the court for the Cavaliers.

Fresh from an intense summer of basketball camps and playing pickup games against the likes of Western's Kimberly Smith, Wagener was suddenly using her size to post up in the middle and showing the flexibility to pop outside for short 8- to 10-foot jumpers.

She had developed a nice soft shooting touch on the jumpers and was 100 percent improved from the free-throw line where the ninth-ranked South Carroll (8-1) team has struggled.

Wagener also was banging the boards for rebounds and blocking shots. She was even throwing some elbows around to protect her 6-1, 145-pound body.

Entering tonight's 7 o'clock game against Thomas Johnson at South Carroll, Wagener is averaging 10 points a game and seven rebounds, and has blocked 13 shots.

Her parents, Donna and John, and Cavalier athletic director Fred Baker have tried to discourage the daily comparisons to Melanee. But it hasn't worked.

"I don't want to go to a big school where the first thing they ask will be if I'm as good as Melanee," said Ce. "I'd prefer to go to a lower Division I or a Division II school."

In addition last summer to attending the Blue-Star and Post Player camps at Lehigh and playing on a strong AAU team with South Carroll teammate Lindsay Vosloh and Westminster's Jill Ibex, Wagener has received a lot of instruction over the years from her father who played at Poly, Melanee, and her oldest sister, Sheri who played at South Carroll.

"It seems like I've been living in a gym for 15 years," said Ce. "But I guess it's only been about 10 years."

Donna Wagener said: "Sheri [26] and Melanee were dragging Ce to gyms when she was just a little kid."

The major improvement in Ce's game that her dad and sisters have been seeking lately is a more physical style of play.

"They want me to be more aggressive and intense," said Ce. "In one game recently, when I got an elbow in the stomach, I said to myself 'Wait a minute, I'm supposed to be dishing out pain, not receiving it."

Wagener admitted that she has a tendency to play a passive game until "I get mad."

And how does Ce compare to Melanee at this stage of her career?

Skierski said: "Ce is not at the level Melanee attained as a senior but she has two more years to step up. Melanee could score, rebound and pass as a senior but she wasn't surrounded by as many talented players that year as Ce is now. No one knows yet what kind of players will surround Ce when she is a senior."

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