Those who know Abby Wentworth are well aware of her dedication and commitment to not only becoming a better basketball player, but to making whatever team she is on better.

John Olenowski, in his second year as women’s basketball coach at Manhattan College in Riverdale, N.Y., has discovered this firsthand.

It’s always a bit uneasy when a new coach takes over a program. But Olenowski immediately found a natural leader in Wentworth.

“She has made my transition here so easy,” said Olenowski. “She works so hard and is such a leader that she really helped my transition with the team.”

Wentworth, a Bethel native who helped McAuley High to a Western Class A championship in 2007, is a senior point guard for the Jaspers and their best player. She leads the team in scoring (15.0 points), steals (69), assists (94), minutes played (36.3 per game), foul shots attempted (140) and foul shots made (118). She is also averaging 4.3 rebounds.

“It’s all on her,” said Olenowski. “She’s reaching her potential, both offensively and defensively. She’s certainly playing great for us.”

She’s also among the top players in the tough Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. She’s in the top 10 in eight categories, leading the MAAC in scoring, assists and steals. She’s second in 3-point field-goal percentage and assist-turnover ratio (1.6).

Wentworth has played regularly for Manhattan all four years, but it has been in the last two, under Olenowski, that she has blossomed. He has moved her from the wing to the point guard position this year and she has responded with her best season.

“I think (the change) has made a big difference in my confidence,” said Wentworth, who averaged 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds as a junior. “This position fits me better. It gives me more freedom to do a lot of different things.”

Olenowski said the point position allows Wentworth to use both her athleticism and her intelligence.

She’s coming off one of her best games of the season last weekend. In a 59-53 win over Buffalo, she scored 22 points with five rebounds and four steals.

That improved the Jaspers to 7-3 in the conference, and Wentworth can see the team steadily improving.

“We opened the conference season with two losses but we’re playing a lot better,” she said.

Wentworth said her improvement the last two years under Olenowski is as much because of maturity as it is to his confidence in her.

“It was a pretty big adjustment my first two years,” she said. “It’s very hard being away from home and struggling with basketball. It’s hard not having your whole family at every game.

“But I’m comfortable here now. I love it here.”

One big change in Wentworth is that she is becoming much more vocal. She prefers to lead by example, something she did at McAuley.

“But that doesn’t cut it all the time here,” she said. “So I have to be more vocal. That’s a little out of my comfort zone, but it’s getting easier to know when I have to talk and how.”

“She is a tremendous leader for us,” said Olenowski. “Everyone looks up to her, including the coaching staff. She’s a tremendous young lady and a benchmark for our program.”

Wentworth, 21, is a biology major and hopes some day to work in marine biology. But for now she’s trying to help the Jaspers navigate to the NCAA tournament.

HOCKEY

Freshman forward Courtney Dumont of Lewiston (North Yarmouth Academy) is the leading scorer for Connecticut College (9-8-1), which needs only one victory in its last seven games to set a school record for most wins in a season. Dumont has 13 goals and seven assists. She’s joined on the roster by freshman goalie Lee Tsairis of York Harbor (Berwick Academy).

INDOOR TRACK

Stonehill College junior Pak Lul of Portland (North Yarmouth Academy) qualified for the New England championships with a time of 1 minute, 5.41 seconds in the 500-meter run at the Reebok Boston Collegiate Indoor Games. He finished seventh of 30 competitors.

Bentley sophomore Craig Robinson of Scarborough ran an 8:40.47 in the 3,000 in the Boston University Terrier Classic, improving his personal best by four seconds. He finished 32nd of 104 competitors.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

Freshman guard Derek Mayo of Casco (Lake Region) leads Wentworth College in steals (23) and is second in assists (46). He averages 5.8 points and 3.8 rebounds.

SKIING

Middlebury College freshman Emily Attwood of Cape Elizabeth finished 24th in the women’s Nordic 10-kilometer classic at a six-team carnival. Attwood finished in 43:11.

SWIMMING

Junior Matt Libby of Freeport (Cheverus) helped Gettysburg College move into first in the Centennial Conference with a recent win over Swarthmore. Libby swam on two pool record-setting relay teams, the 400 medley (3:35.07) and 400 free (3:13.98), and won the 200 free.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Stonehill senior point guard Emily Rousseau of Biddeford missed the last eight games because of a concussion. She was averaging a team-high 17.4 points in 13 games.

Junior guard Coreen Hennessy of Chatham, N.H., (Fryeburg Academy) has been one of the most consistent players for St. Michael’s College. She is averaging 10 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]