Heavy rain didn’t stop the crowd from flowing into the J.A. Albertson Athletic Center on Saturday night to celebrate the 12 seniors playing for The College of Idaho men’s and women’s basketball teams. The seniors were appearing in their final regular-season games of their careers as the Yotes took on the visiting Walla Walla Wolves.
Senior Night is always meaningful as the graduating players are honored before the game. And the Yotes made sure this year’s festivities were particularly memorable, as the women cruised to a 96-42 victory and the men rolled to a 101-63 triumph.
“Senior Night is always special, because you either have teammates that are leaving or you’re the one who is finishing up your career,” said Petra Lumpert, who racked up 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals in the victory. “It has been a blast to be part of this team. It is always more fun when you win, but to win on Senior Night made it that much more special.”
Lumpert wasn’t the only player feeling bittersweet. Emanuel Morgan, who has been a key contributor for all four of his seasons with the Yotes, said he’ll always have fond memories of his time in Caldwell.
“[I’m definitely going to miss] the Caldwell community and the fans,” said Morgan, who set a school record with 17 assists versus Walla Walla. “Every single game [has] been something special. It has been super cool to know that our fans are behind us.”
While Senior Night is often viewed as a celebration of individuals, it also provided an opportunity for the Yotes to enjoy being a team on their home floor, one final time. The lopsided scores also allowed for many backups to see extended playing time.
“We got to get some of the younger [players] in this game,” said Kiara Skinner, who scored 13 points. “It gives them a little bit of experience, and it feels nice to get off the court and watch them play and see how we’ve grown.”
This is an accomplished senior class—on the men’s side, Morgan, Trevor Thomas, Michael Goward and Joey Nebeker were part of the squad that won back-to-back Cascade Conference titles in 2014 and 2015, advancing to the Elite Eight at the 2015 NAIA National Tournament. And as they look forward to turning the page on their college careers, the impact they’ve had on the C of I is not lost on their coach.
“[The senior class] has been not only a tremendous group of basketball players but a group of great leaders on campus,” said C of I men’s coach Scott Garson. “I can’t say enough about what they’ve contributed to this program, to our campus, and the community of Caldwell. As good of basketball players as they are—and they’re really good—they’re twice as good of people.”
Up next for the Yotes is the Cascade Conference Tournament. The No. 3-seeded men open at home, taking on Northwest University at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The No. 5 women are on the road, visiting Northwest Christian at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Eugene, Ore.
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 www.collegeofidaho.edu.
By Shannon Heller, C of I Student Reporter