13 players take court for last home game of regular season

Chris Procacina

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The USI men’s and women’s basketball teams will close out their regular seasons on Thursday against Bellarmine University.  With both teams already clinching home court for the first round of the GLVC tournament, the Eagles have one more game to play during the regular season.

Rodney Watson, head coach of the men’s team, said the unusually high number of seniors  have helped lead the team.

“We have a high range of seniors. First of all it’s an unusual number with eight seniors,” Watson said. “Each one of them have their own individual stories. LT (Lawrence Thomas) came in really about the same month I came in.”

Thomas was Watson’s first recruit when he joined the university five years ago. Thomas and fellow senior Taylor Wischmeier are the only two to start and end their careers with USI.

“We’ve been through it all, done it all and seen it all,” Wischmeier said of his four years playing alongside Thomas.

Fellow seniors DeAndre McCamey, Orlando Rutledge, Manny Ogunfolu, Ben Jones and Aaron Nelson all made their way to USI from playing at other programs. Senior Chuck Jones found his way onto the team after being discovered in a USI badminton class.

Women’s head coach Rick Stein has nothing but appreciation for his team’s five seniors.

“This group didn’t just all come in together,” Stein said. “But over time, they certainly have grown together as a senior class and it’s hard to believe how fast it goes.”

Like the men’s team, only two current seniors, Nicole Hazemi and Stephanie Carpenter, started and ended their careers with the Eagles.

Jessica Parker, Aubrey Minix and Ariel Barnes round out the women’s class.

“It’s been a great experience. I (am) really glad that I came here. I love my coaches. I love my teammates. We’re all a close-knit team and it’s been really fun,” said Parker, who transferred to USI from Eastern Illinois University.

Tip off for the women’s game is scheduled for 5:15 p.m., while the men are slated to start at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

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