BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Points, rebounds and assists have meant little to Samira Sangare this season. The versatile forward for the Shenendehowa girls’ basketball team sums up her view of this season in simple terms.
“I’m a senior,” she said. “All I care about is winning.”
Sangare’s dedication to the greater good for her team has helped a remarkably deep Shenendehowa squad navigate an 18-2 regular season and align itself as the No. 1 seed in the Section II Class AA playoffs. The Plainsmen will start their postseason run at home Monday against No. 8 Catholic Central, and Sangare’s play will be critical to Shenendehowa’s success as its seeks its second area title in three years.
Senior guard Carly Boland leads the team in scoring at 20.1 points per game and junior forward Sydney Brown (12.8 points and 8.6 rebounds) has been the squad’s double-double machine.
Sangare? Well, she fills in the gaps for the Plainsmen, doing whatever is needed for the team. Bound for Division II Dominican College next season, the fourth-year varsity player starts when asked, comes off the bench when needed, and is always ready in crunch time to bolster the Plainsmen with her unique set of skills.
“That’s been her mentality every day, right from the start,” Shenendehowa head coach Joe Murphy said. “That’s a credit to her.”
When Sangare is in the game, she allows the Plainsmen to play a fast-paced, perimeter-oriented style while not sacrificing anything on defense. Smart and tough enough to guard bigger players down low when she plays as a small-ball center, Sangare has also made the second-most 3-pointers this season for Shenendehowa.
“She’s so versatile,” Murphy said. “She can rebound and post up down low, but she also shoots the 3 and is such a tremendous passer.”
More important than any statistical contribution Sangare makes, though, is the attitude she brings to the court for the Plainsmen.
“She brings a lot of intensity,” sophomore guard Cam Tooley said. “We look to her to get us going.”
Often, Sangare does that with her toughness. Other times, she does that by making sure all her teammates are involved. In a recent game, Sangare had a chance to go in for a layup of her own; instead, she whipped a behind-the-back pass to senior forward Sydney Quinn for the score.
“It’s stuff like that, she does the little things,” Quinn said. “She makes sure everyone’s energy is up.”
After serving as a full-time starter as a sophomore and junior, Sangare has split a starting spot this season with senior forward Morgan O’Brien. Murphy likened Sangare’s sacrifice to the one Andre Iguodala made last year with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors; Iguodala, a former NBA All-Star, took on a bench role last season for the championship-winning Warriors — and ended his season as the MVP of the finals.
“I see the same type of thing for her because her role is going to expand in the playoffs,” Murphy said of Sangare.
The senior’s focus, though, is on team glory and not her own. “Anything,” she said, “that will help this team win and go far, I’ll sacrifice for,” is what she wants to bring to the Plainsmen.
“We’re not satisfied with a one seed or a great Suburban Council season,” Sangare said. “We’re here to win sectionals.”