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Albright's double-double machine Gabby Boggs one of nation's best

03/01/2022, 11:45am EST
By Sean McBryan

Sean McBryan (@SeanMcBryan)

One rebound in the flow of a basketball game consists of an afterthought, a mark on a sportswriter’s stat sheet or a tally onto the scoreboard by the operator.

The final rebound Albright senior Gabby Boggs grabbed in a 66-58 loss to Messiah in the MAC Commonwealth playoffs that ended the Lions’ season meant much, much more.

That rebound gave Boggs her 18th double-double of the season and exactly 1,000 career rebounds, making her one of three in players in program history to record 1,000 career points and rebounds.

Gabby Boggs (above) finished her senior season by grabbing her 1,000th career rebound. (Photo: Sean McBryan/CoBL)

In fact, Boggs didn’t even realize the kind of season she was having, although she was nearing the top in the country in multiple statistical categories.

The 6-foot-tall forward didn’t set the goal of being atop the NCAA Division III leaderboards. It was a mindset that she’s had since arriving at the Reading, Pa. school from her hometown of Northfield, N.J. that pushed her to being one of the best post players in the country in terms of rebounding and double-doubles.

Boggs has always utilized her endless motor (she ran cross country in high school and enjoys running), fundamental boxing-out, and anticipation to secure rebounds since beginning to play seriously in the seventh grade — when, she said, “I was so bad. I was the girl they would put in last off the bench and they would just keep me on the offensive end, chuck the ball up to me, and I still wouldn’t even score.”

There are more ways to impact a basketball than scoring and Boggs took that to heart, especially rebounding on the offensive end where she feels that’s how she gets the gaudy totals; she averages over four offensive rebounds per game across her career.

“My dad loves basketball so he's always talked to me about rebounding,” Boggs said. “He's like sometimes you can't really control your points. Especially in high school, I wasn't like a super big scorer and even freshman and sophomore year of college, but he told me I could have the mindset to go after rebounds.”

She embraced that mindset as a member of the girls basketball team at Mainland Regional High School, but frankly didn’t have much of a choice. There were three girls at least six feet tall in the starting lineup — including 6-4 Kylee Watson, who is now in her sophomore season at Oregon — that shouldered the scoring load.

Albright head coach Janice Luck discovered Boggs after assistant coach Jess Venturelli saw her playing for the Philadelphia Belles AAU squad. The coaches followed her high school career and thought she would be a perfect fit in black and red.

“We took that big girl out of it, you just really have to look at the player and she had such good fundamentals and she was so athletic,” Luck said. “Yes she had great size, but she didn't look that big standing next to like a 6-4 girl, you know? But she's tall. We had her major, she fit in nicely with what the campus offered. She was getting recruited by a lot of schools for obvious reasons. 

“She definitely flew under the radar. I feel like she could have played at a higher level and we were lucky to get her.”

Boggs arrived at Albright and things changed.

“When I came here freshman year, I remember one game specifically, coach took me out and she said, ‘Stop passing the ball. Shoot the basketball,’” she said. “‘You're good. We want you to score the ball.’

“It was so different coming from high school. I never had these goals or ever thought that I would score like that going into college. I didn't have a whole lot of confidence. A lot of my confidence, initially when I was younger, would come from rebounding and just being that hustle player.”

Boggs (12) didn't have to do a ton of scoring in high school, but picked it up significantly in college. (Photo courtesy David Morgan, Stylish Images/Albright College)

In her freshman season, Albright went 12-13 and Boggs averaged 9.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in a significant role off the bench. 

She started all 28 games her sophomore season, averaging 11.3 points and 12.3 rebounds as the Lions won their third most games in a season. Boggs was not asked to score much as she teamed up with All-American Dejah Terrell, who holds Albright’s scoring record with 41 points in a game, to lead the Lions to the MAC Championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The team finished 22-6.

COVID disrupted her junior season and the team played only 11 games; Boggs started all 11 and averaged 12.0 points and 10.8 rebounds. She realized she would need to take over a larger scoring role heading into her senior season without Terrell, who transferred to D-II California (Pa.).

“I was kind of not used to it,” Boggs said of being the top scorer. “But then it was a shortened year so I kind of just realized that that was a role I was going to have to try and fill, like her scoring-wise. [Terrell] scored a lot. I worked really hard in the summer with my trainer at home in Jersey.”

The offensive game has improved despite Boggs not being a three-point threat (she’s attempted only two 3s in her college career) and her scoring averages reflect that, gradually improving every year. She’s worked on her midrange game and further polished her post moves. She broke the 1,000-point threshold on February 9 against Eastern to become the 18th player to do so in Albright history. Pretty good for a seventh grader that couldn’t score. 

Early in the season, a coach broke the news to her about being among the best bigs in D-III with rebounding average and double-doubles both placing her in the top 10 at the time. Boggs finished the season averaging 16.9 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

“It definitely wasn't a goal before the season,” said Boggs, who finished 12th in NCAA Division III in rebounds per game and tied for sixth in double-doubles (18) barring anyone passing her in playoff play. “Then I heard about it and I was like that's pretty cool. I never imagined being at the top in the nation until my coach brought it to my attention.”

Only Rockford (Ill.) freshman Anaya Davis (13.8 rpg, 21 double-doubles), St. Lawrence (N.Y.) senior Katie Frederick (13.9, 19), Husson (Me.) junior Bailey Donovan (13.9, 19), John Carroll (Ohio) senior Olivia Nagy (13.5, 19) and Bethany Lutheran (Minn.) senior Hanna Geistfeld (13.1, 19) have more rebounds and double-doubles this season.

“She's definitely in the top five overall,” Luck, who is in her 20th year coaching and started at guard for the Lions from 1992-96, said about where Boggs ranks among all-time Albright players. “Not just her basketball ability, but dedication to the sport, performance in the classroom, just everything like that. She's got the whole package. She really grew as a player while she was here and she worked hard. She worked hard in the summer; she works hard in the offseason to gain everything that she has achieved so far.”

Boggs posted a career-high 27 rebounds in a single game this season, setting an Albright record. (Photo courtesy David Morgan, Stylish Images/Albright College)

Boggs broke Albright’s single-game rebounding record with 27 against Lebanon Valley on January 8. She sits at third for career total rebounds and in rebound average in Albright’s history. Not to mention she’s also second on the all-time list in total blocks and climbing up the steals leaderboard as well. So which is she the most proud of?

“You can help out the team in other ways [than scoring],” Boggs said. “Just hustle after rebounds, like just hustle, hustle, hustle. Sometimes coaches see that and think, well, we need that on the court. It's not necessarily always the person who scores a whole bunch. So that was something that ever since high school, I just brought along with me. So getting that [single-game] record was definitely a really good feeling and what I’m most proud of.”

Boggs became the de facto leader, scorer and rebounder for the Lions that went through an up-and-down year. The team finished 7-9 in MAC Commonwealth play and 13-11 overall. 

“The year has definitely had some ups and downs,” Boggs said. “We've had a lot of injuries, like COVID and just regular sicknesses, and just some things that have come up or players haven't been able to play for us. Some of our starters have been out and we had to play a game with six girls. One of them just transferred in. We've had a lot of games like that so we've lost some close ones. It’s just been a rocky road honestly, but there’s glimpses of what I know we’re capable of and I’m hoping we can make a playoff run.”

That playoff run didn’t come to fruition this season, as the eight-point MAC Commonwealth semifinal loss to Messiah ended the Lions’ season, but Boggs has left open the possibility of returning for a fifth year as she is eligible after the NCAA ruling allowing players an extra year in response to the toll COVID-19 has had. 

She majors in elementary education and family studies with the goal of becoming a teacher and an extra year at Albright would allow her to get a master’s degree. Gabby’s younger sister, Kaitlyn, is a senior at Mainland Regional and an extra season would allow the sisters to play together. If Gabby can convince her to go to Albright.

“I've talked to her about coming here because I feel like that would be so cool if I did a fifth year and she came here,” the elder Boggs said. “She's looking around. She's taller than me and she's good. So that'd be cool if we had the chance to play together.”

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