Chartiers Valley’s Wagner commits to Loyola

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Friday, May 11, 2018 | 1:15 AM


Mackenzie Wagner got on the inside track for her college decision.

The Chartiers Valley junior has verbally committed to Loyola (Md.) women's basketball. The Greyhounds compete at the Division I level in the Patriot League.

“Loyola is a great fit,” Wagner said. “Ever since I met the coaches, everyone has been so welcoming. It was just one of those things. I knew it was the place I wanted to be.”

Wagner was a leader for the Chartiers Valley girls basketball team this past season as she averaged more than 17 points and was second on the team in 3-pointers with 32. She scored a season-high 29 points in a 61-59 win over Montour on Jan. 29.

She reached 1,000 career points on Jan. 18 in a 83-71 loss to Thomas Jefferson.

Wagner has been a starter for the Colts since her freshman season. But it wasn't until the following year she realized her athletic career might take her to the Division I level.

“When I became a sophomore, I started to hit my peak,” Wagner said. “I started scoring a lot more and realized some Division I coaches were looking at me. I realized I had the potential if I kept working at it.”

She helped guide the Colts to their first WPIAL title in 2017.

Wagner said she plans to study speech therapy. She chose Loyola over St. Bonaventure and Wofford.

“I had been talking to St. Bonaventure for a couple of years,” Wagner said. “And Wofford had a great campus, but it was just too far for my family. The recruiting process was stressful at times, and I knew I couldn't satisfy all the coaches.

“It was hard to decide because I didn't want to make the wrong decision.”

Making her college commitment early is going to allow Wagner to focus on her senior season and improving her game. She said she is focused on improving the skills that will help her make an instant impact on the college hardwood.

“I feel committing early allows me to focus on what Loyola wants me to potentially work on,” Wagner said. “Maybe I will get to play as a freshman. It relieves a lot of stress now that I don't have to worry.”

Expectations will be high for the Colts next season. In addition to Wagner, Chartiers Valley returns its leading scorer in Megan McConnell, who averaged more than 19 points. The team also returns Gabby Legister, a 6-foot-2 Kennesaw State recruit who missed last season because of injury.

“Our section is going to get a lot harder,” Wagner said. “But I think we will be one of the toughest teams to beat.”

Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.

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