Anyone watching the Joseph Charter School girls basketball team is familiar with the distinctive play of Sabrina Albee, no. 21. Albee’s presence is unavoidable, sinking shot after shot to help propel an already talented squad toward the state 1A basketball championship series. JCS sophomore Albee wears the number 21 for the Eagles. Albee’s hard work and dedication to the sport earned her the distinction of unanimous choice for the Old Oregon League’s “Player of the Year” award.
Albee, 16, doesn’t remember when she first started shooting hoops. She does remember when she started realizing she has a talent for the sport: “When I was in fifth or six grade playing on the junior high “A” team.” She started on the vaunted Eagles varsity team as a freshman, where she plays shooting guard or point guard. Her family all plays the game with one aunt even playing for the University of Oregon squad.
“She inspired my sister (Satori Albee) and me as well,” Albee said.
A three-sport athlete, including volleyball and track, basketball is her first love.
“I love the competition, and I can go outside my box and trust others,” she said. “I don’t just have to count on myself; I can count on other people.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Albee doesn’t have a problem balancing her academic work and her athletic life.
“I get as much done as I can during school, and I have a lot of late nights doing homework,” she said with a laugh. She is a constant presence in the upper reaches of the honor roll, undoubtedly helping the Eagles girls earn a cumulative GPA of 3.74.
The young star hopes to play college basketball. She hasn’t decided on where, although she has a keen interest in interior design. Her family is helping her put together a video resume of her court play when the colleges come calling.
Players don’t get as good as Albee by confining practice to school. The sophomore spends her spare time picking out court spots and shooting until she makes it and then shooting some more. She also practices moves for attacking the basket and has a basket on the side of her home where she practices daily in the summer time. In eighth grade she played for La Grande’s AAU team and last year went to Sunday Clinics in the Tri-Cities, Washington area. She also chalks up her skills to her desire to succeed for both herself and the team.
“I’m really competitive,” she said. “I want to win.”
On occasion, Coach Lance Homan works with Albee after practice on a routine of different shots.
“He’s been my coach since like, fourth grade,” Albee said.
Coach Lance Homan said he enjoys coaching Albee because of her dedication to the game. Albee, with her high level of skills, understands the game so well that her intuition will often tell her what’s going to happen next. He also appreciates her humility.
“She doesn’t like the spotlight is uncomfortable with recognition, but you put her on the basketball floor in a packed gym and she loves it,” he said. “I also really appreciate that she encourages everyone and really is a good team member.”
As good as she is, Albee has things she says she needs to improve on as a player.
“I need to work on my mid-range for sure,” she said. “I work on that a lot. I think I need to work on offensive rebounds.” She added that team box-out drills and playing against her much taller dad helps as well.
Albee does have her occasional single digit point nights, which she expects because she’s often double-teamed, and other coaches don’t mind letting everyone know they consider her a threat.
“I get a lot of ‘guard 21’ from the coaches,” she said with a laugh. “I try to set my teammates up a lot whether I’m double-teamed or not. I try to do what I can to help the team win and make my teammates successful as well. High scoring isn’t half of what basketball is.”
Despite all of the natural talent Albee possesses along with the unanimous all-league selection and the multiple 20-plus point games under her belt, she doesn’t have a problem stating she’s motivated to do better.
“I just think, ‘next shot,’ I try to move on to the next play,” she said. Albee doesn’t discount the rest of the squad, either. “The team does a good job of keeping my spirit up.”
Although Albee sets goals, those goals are not stats-oriented, but rather, mental goals she sets for herself. She said that when shots don’t fall she can get frustrated, so she works on keeping her head at such times. She recognizes that as she is one of the team leaders, so she tries to fulfill that role by example.
“I’m not a big talker,” she said.
Albee had advice for younger players coming up who are serious about their game.
“Always have a good mindset,” she said. “Be patient; you’re not going to have a good game every night. You’re not going to get good shots every game. Stay with it and do your hardest.”