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The center of attention

Gateway's Meghan Nowak will draw a crowd.

If things go according to form, Gateway senior Meghan Nowak can look forward to a lot of double-teaming and even more double figures - when it comes to both scoring and rebounding.

The 6-foot Nowak is among the most versatile players in South Jersey, not to mention one of the best.

As a junior she averaged a double-double - 23.2 points and 12.1 rebounds - despite being the center of defensive attention. There probably hasn't been a gadget defense that Nowak hasn't seen.

"Sometimes it can be frustrating when you have all those defenders around you, but there is not much I can do about it," said Nowak, an Inquirer second-team all-South Jersey selection last season. "I've probably seen every defense you could imagine."

Nowak received a scare toward the end of last season when she suffered a knee injury that kept her out of the final two games, including the Gators' 38-21 playoff loss to Lindenwold.

She didn't need surgery, and after rehabilitation, the knee, according to Nowak, is fine. Nowak played for her AAU team, the Delaware Valley Comets, during the summer and is expected to pick up where she left off last high school season.

What makes her such a prolific scorer is that Nowak can hurt teams from the perimeter as well as inside. She had 18 three-point field goals last season.

"She can shoot from the outside, handle the ball, and is very versatile," said Gateway coach Stacey Kenefick.

Nowak is already the all-time leading girls' scorer in Gateway history, with 1,362 points. This season, she is taking aim at the overall school record of 1,953 points set by Eric Wiltsee. In addition, Nowak has 867 rebounds.

Nowak, a member of the National Honor Society, is looking to play in college but hasn't made a decision. Schools from Division I through Division III have been in contact to various degrees.

"I think she is going to be a gem for some school," Kenefick said. "They won't realize what they are getting."

With Nowak leading the way, Gateway is looking to improve on last season's 13-11 record. Five returning letter-winners are junior guard Colleen Connolly, senior guards Aimee Mulholland and Maria Spross, and senior forwards Megan Glenn and Peggy Nicolle.

A key new addition is freshman point guard Alisha Fox, who will run the offense.

"She is a very good ball handler and a true point guard," Kenefick said of Fox. "I think she will help us out immensely."

And one of Fox's main duties will no doubt be to get the ball to Nowak, who said everything is in place for an improved season.

"Our goal is to advance further in the playoffs," said Nowak, who also participated in cross-country, and runs distance and throws the javelin in track.

Nowak will likely have the biggest impact on the Gators' postseason plans.

"What she has done has been even more impressive because of all the defensive attention she has received," Kenefick said. "A lot of times people only see the points, but she does so much for us."