Athlete Spotlight: Jessica Mogen

WATFORD CITY – Jessica Mogen is a two-time all-WDA girls’ basketball selection. 

She’s not eligible for the honor this season, however.

That’s a shame because she would be a shoo-in.

Yes, the senior’s talents on the court are that good. Watford City moved into a new classification this season, and while the Wolves are not competing against the likes of Bismarck Century and Minot High anymore, they are facing stiff competition in the middle classification of NDHSAA basketball.

And fortunately, they have a standout player to guide them.

Mogen is leading her squad in nearly every statistical category, including points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goal percentage and minutes played.

That’s not a surprise given her athleticism, talent, work ethic and high basketball IQ. 

Mogen has been playing on the Wolves’ varsity since seventh grade and benefited from sharing the court  with standout players, including her older sister, Emma, and Ashley Holen.  

Those first few years in the program she played a supporting role, but beginning her sophomore season had to become a consistent scorer and all-around contributor once those older players graduated.

She scored just 299 total points her first three seasons, but broke out with 334 during her sophomore year and followed it up with 367 last year. She already has amassed over 300 points this season and averages 19 points per game.

 “She can score in a varsity of ways,’’ said coach Tom Dwyer. “She is a good ball handler and can drive right or left. Even though she’s right-handed she has always loved driving and fishing with her left hand.”

At 5-9, Mogen isn’t the tallest player on the court, but she can play big. Dwyer said Jessica is good at posting up, sealing and finishing at the rim. “She’s very strong and can jump as high as anyone,’’ he said. “It really allows her to jump over taller athletes to still finish.”

Her perimeter shooting isn’t too shabby, either, averaging over 30 percent from three-point range and she’s a 75 percent foul shooter. Her talents certainly don’t go unnoticed from the competition and she is often seeing double teams. At first, it was a bit frustrating to play through the extra attention, Mogen admits. But there was good that came out of it. It meant other teammates had a chance to step up and take advantage of more scoring opportunities. “My teammate Jordyn Pedersen is doing so well this season,’’ she said. “We’re becoming more balanced in our offense.”

Jessica is just as effective defensively. She pulls down an average of eight rebounds a game and is averaging over four steals and two blocks. She puts herself in good position to defend a shot or read where a play is going to step in front of a pass or strip the ball from a ballhandler.

“Jessica is the epitome of what you want in a player as a coach,’’ Dwyer said. “Yes, she is super athletic, but her drive to be the best she can is top-notch.”

Mogen is the youngest in her family and benefited from having four older sisters who were talented and their sports and activities. Success comes with hard work and putting in the time in the gym. Many players shy away from that level commitment. Jessica didn’t and the results speak for themselves. 

“She has high expectations for herself and the team,’’ Dwyer said. “She pushes her teammates but in a positive way that has results.”

Jessica already has participated in a state tournament. As a freshman, the Wolves qualified for the Class A Tournament. That season the program finished second in an ultra-competitive WDA and won a pair of region tournament games to qualify. “That was a fun year and remember the excitement of playing two home games and the big crowds we had. Our community was really behind us.”

Mogen is hoping another state tournament will be in the cards. Watford City is currently second in Class A Region 4, and if the squad can finish no worse than third, it will earn a spot in a state-qualifying game later this month in Minot. A win and they advance to the state tournament.

“That’s one of our goals (getting to state),’’ said. “We knew this season was going to be different, but still very challenging. There are a lot of good teams.”

Regardless of how this season finishes, there will still be more basketball ahead for Mogen. She is committed to playing at Minot State University and reuniting on the court with her sister, Emma, who plays for the Beavers. Mogen said after touring the school and visiting with coaches she felt it was a good fit for her. And the chance to play close to home.

The end of her career at Watford City is bittersweet for coach Dwyer. “There are a lot pros and cons to coaching like anything,’’ he said. “But one of the best parts is just simply getting to interact with players, like Jessie. I have loved coaching and I know a huge reason for that is I had Jessie in my program the last six years. She will be greatly missed next year.”

Photo courtesy: JJs Photos