Hoop squads play first home games this weekend

It’s that time of year again. No, we’re not talking about Christmas—unless the notion of the Yotes taking to the hardwood for the 2016-17 basketball season feels like Christmas to you. And with the nationally ranked Yotes off to a hot start, it just might!

Referee whistles will ring, if you’re listening, and Yotes will drive the lane that is glistening this weekend, as both the men’s and women’s basketball teams play their first home games. The No. 7 ranked C of I men (3-1) take on Colorado Christian in the Taco Bell Shootout at 7 p.m. on Nov. 18, while the women (0-4) host rival NNU in an exhibition at 7 p.m. Nov. 19.

The men follow up the weekend with the much-anticipated Mayor’s Cup rivalry game against NNU on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. in J.A.A.C. After splitting the season series with NNU last year, the Yotes look to thrill the best home crowd in the nation before heading to Nampa for round two on Dec. 6.

“Our team is off to an excellent start, especially on the defensive end of the floor,” said C of I Head Coach Scott Garson. “We are beginning to click more and more as a group each time out, and I am excited to see how good this team can get.  We have a lot of experience this season with seven seniors, and we will be able to utilize our size and athleticism to our advantage throughout the season.”

Coming off a 17-13 season last year, the Yotes look to return atop the Cascade Conference standings and go for a third CCC title in four years. And they’re favored to do so. The C of I received 6 first-place votes to edge out defending champion Northwest Christian in the CCC preseason coaches’ poll, along with being ranked No. 7 in the national NAIA Div. II Men’s Basketball Top-25 Poll.

Through four early games, the Yotes have been aided by the return of four starters: All-American forward Joey Nebeker and guards Emmanuel Morgan, Dominique Jordan and Aitor Zubizarreta. The group accounts for four of the Yotes top-six scorers. The C of I has also enjoyed the presence of junior center Aziz Leeks, who is back from a season-ending injury last year, and transfer Roosevelt Adams. Thus far, Leeks leads the team in points (16.3) and rebounds (8) per game. Adams is the second-leading scorer at 11 points per game, and Morgan averages a team-high six assists and 1.5 steals per game.

On the women’s side, senior guard Petra Lumpert has averaged a team-high 15.3 points per game. She also leads the team in assists per game (4.5) and co-leads the Lady Yotes in rebounds per game (4) with senior forward Kiara Skinner. Sophomore Alyssa Case leads the team with just over two steals per game.

After the men and women both host home tournaments next week, they’ll open up another year of Cascade Conference play at Eastern Oregon on Dec. 3.

“With the depth and talent in the CCC, I believe this will be the best NAIA Division II conference in the country this season,” Garson said. “We are certainly excited to be selected as the preseason favorites, but now we have to go out and earn it.”

It’s not too late to purchase your Yotes 2016-17 basketball season tickets for what is sure to be another exciting year on the hardwood. Season tickets are on-sale through Dec. 31. For season and single-game ticket information, click here.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit