Seniors shine on game day

Senior basketball players recognized

On Saturday, Feb. 27 at the University Center, before the game against the University of Central Arkansas began,
the senior Lion team members were honored while surrounded by their family members and friends.
The Lion's Roar/Elizabeth Brown

This past weekend, the Lions basketball team seniors were honored on Senior Day. Following the honors, the team went into the game with high spirits and finished off with a 19-point leading victory. Surrounded by their family members were seniors forward Byron Smith, guard Zay Jackson and guard JaMichael Hawkins. Team manager Aaron Ardis was also honored. 

In his final season and soon to be graduating, Jackson felt proud to be a Lion. 

“I’m actually thankful for Southeastern because I transferred from another school under some different circumstances, but that’s behind me,” said Jackson. “I’m very thankful to be here and I’m trying to make the most of it.” 

In the first half, the Lions (9-19, 7-8 SLC) started off short, but they did not let this downfall set them back. The team stayed close behind and halfway through the first, assisted by Hawkins, sophomore forward James Currington tied the score 19-19 at 10:04. From there, the Lions held out defensively and swept past the Bears, finishing the first half with an 18-point lead at 48-30. Jackson and Hawkins both contributed 12 points while freshman forward Moses Greenwood followed close behind with eight points. 

Following the first half, Hawkins, who led in three-pointers and in defensive rebounds, felt positive about his determination throughout. 

“Going to the locker room, everybody was telling me I was doing good,” said Hawkins. “It was a good feeling to keep going and attacking.” 

In the second half, the Lions remained on top even with the Bears trying to close the gap, finishing at 75-56. By the end, Hawkins led in three-pointers with five, Jackson with 21 points and seven assists, freshman guard Demi Cook with five free throws and Currington with 10 total rebounds.

Looking back on the team’s overall performance in this game, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jay Ladner felt that the team started off slow in the beginning of the first and second halves, but picked up as the game progressed. 

“Today we really started kind of slow in both halves,” said Ladner. “So, certainly not good coaching, but I was proud of our second unit. We really have nine young men that played fairly even minutes and all of them have started basketball games. I thought defensively overall, it was one of our better defensive performances and I felt like that was really the difference in the basketball game. The second group that came in there provided some energy, switching to the man-to-man defense being more aggressive in our execution. They did a good job.”

Looking forward, Ladner was proud of the seniors, but also felt that they and the rest of the team still have more to do before the season is over. 

“Our goals are still in front of us,” said Ladner. “We want to go to the NCAA tournament. I’m really proud of them on Senior Day. We want to start a tradition here that we do not lose on Senior Day.” 

Hawkins also felt proud to be a Lion and remains determined for the rest of the season. 

“To me, it’s good,” said Hawkins. “I feel like we still have our eyes on the prize. A lot of people are counting us out, but I feel like we are going to make a statement. We are playing our best basketball right now.”

This Southland victory added another win to the current home game winning streak which is now at six games in a row and also qualifies the team for the tournament. 

Up next for the team is a Southland game against in-state rival UNO on Thursday, Mar. 3 at 7:45 p.m. in New Orleans. For more information, visit lionsports.net.