Wakeman regains shooting touch to help lead Central

By Brad Fauber

WOODSTOCK — The transition back into regular playing time since her early-season injury hasn’t exactly been seamless for Central senior Mary Wakeman.

Wakeman, known for her ability to hit the 3-point shot, just hasn’t quite had the same stroke from beyond the arc since she fractured her left, non-shooting hand during a 46-40 loss at George Mason back on Dec. 13.

But that long distance shot has slowly started coming back for Wakeman, and the senior hit some critical buckets during the Falcons’ run through the 3A East regional girls basketball tournament last week.

“I’m glad my shot is slowly coming back to me. I feel like being out so long kind of hindered me,” said Wakeman, who missed eight games during the regular season while her hand healed. “My shot has been just everywhere but in the hoop, that’s what it seems like. I guess I’m more proud of my team for having the trust in me … passing to me for the opportunity to shoot.”

Though her success from beyond the arc is still somewhat sporadic, Wakeman seemed to come up with the big shot just when the Falcons needed it throughout the regional tournament.

In a 70-57 win over James Monroe in the regional quarterfinals on Feb. 24, Wakeman — who is averaging 7.9 points per game this season — scored 11 points, including seven in the fourth quarter to help Central pull away.

Wakeman, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for Feb. 23-March 1, added eight points in Central’s thrilling 49-45 overtime win over John Marshall in the regional semifinals two days later, including a pair of big 3-pointers. Her first trey came late in the first half, as Wakeman sank a shot from the wing with 13 seconds left in the first half to cap a 12-0 Central run and send the Falcons into halftime with a 20-13 lead.

The senior then added one of Central’s biggest shots of the night late in the fourth quarter, as Wakeman nailed an open 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 35 seconds to play that pulled the Falcons within 39-38 of John Marshall.

“When I got the ball and I didn’t see anybody in front of me, I just took the opportunity upon myself and luckily it went in,” Wakeman said. “I think that shot was just so big in contributing to the win. … It’s kind of like a big blur. I was in shock that I made it, just because my shot has been so off.”

“I always tell her, ‘Keep shooting. Keep shooting. It’s going to fall and you just have to be ready for it,'” Falcons coach Mallory Skarupa said. “She’s been down on herself because I guess the last week or two her shot hasn’t been quite where she would like it, but again, that’s why you say keep shooting. You never know when you’re going to need that shot and she stepped up big for us.”

Wakeman added 11 more points in a 48-43 home loss to Huguenot in the 3A East regional championship, as she connected for three more 3-pointers in the game. Her trey early in the fourth quarter capped a 9-0 Central run that gave the Falcons a brief lead before Huguenot pulled away late.

Though the Falcons rely on Wakeman’s ability to hit the outside shot, her defense has also been invaluable to Central. Wakeman had three steals in the win over James Monroe and added four more in the semifinal victory over John Marshall.

“You put the tag team of her and [senior Rebecca Truban] up there together and they’re going to make something happen and create some noise and havoc for us,” Skarupa said. “She’s just a competitor. That’s what I love about her. … She’s the girl that’s going to be in your face, come right at you and not have any excuses.”

Central is now preparing to take on defending state champion Spotswood in the 3A state semifinals at James Madison University this Saturday, and Wakeman’s presence should once again play a pivotal role for the Falcons.

“She is probably one of the toughest, fiercest competitors that I’ve ever coached or played with,” Skarupa said. “She just loves to compete. She does not like to lose. … You can tell that she cares. She wants to do well. She doesn’t want it to be her last game and I think that’s really hit home, with her especially, and the rest of the seniors.”

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD