Eastern New Mexico University’s Jereena Bosket loses the handle on the ball during a scramble in last week’s game against Texas A&M-Kingsville last week at Greyhound Arena. Photo by Rick White
By Dave Wagner
Whatever happens this weekend, Eastern New Mexico University senior Jereena Bosket will end her basketball career at the school with an upbeat feeling.
Bosket transferred to ENMU from Barstow (Calif.) Community College in 2002 and she, along with the team, struggled mightily last season. The Zias lost 14 of 15 games in one stretch and finished with a record of 7-20.
What a difference a year makes.
Picked last in the Lone Star Conference South Division preseason poll, ENMU enters its final two regular-season contests — tonight at Angelo State and Saturday at Abilene Christian — tied for the division lead with West Texas A&M and fighting for the right, as South champion, to host to the conference tournament semifinals and finals next week.
Eastern (16-9, 10-2 South) has won seven in a row and 12 of its last 14 games.
“We feel good about it,” said Bosket, a 6-foot post from Las Vegas, Nev., and the only senior on the team. “This year has been a whole lot better than last year.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, but we just have to do whatever it takes to win these games.”
Bosket is third on the team in both scoring (11.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg). She’s been a far steadier influence than she was last season, when her game yo-yoed like an unstable stock market.
“I don’t know if we can replace what Jereena brings to our team,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “She’s been playing a lot more consistently this year. I think she knows more about what the conference is like, and what we expected of her.”
One thing that could have contributed to her erratic junior campaign was for the first time she was a long way from home. Her junior college was only a couple of hours from Vegas.
Buzard said Bosket had a solid high school career, and averaged around 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Barstow. She then sustained a knee injury which sidelined her for two years.
He said ENMU wasn’t able to get her another year of eligibility from the NCAA, even though she’s actually played just three seasons.
As the team’s only true post player, Bosket often finds herself trying to outmaneuver players several inches taller.
“A lot of (her moves) are kind of unorthodox, but they get the job done,” Buzard said. “She’s just so strong.”
A criminal justice major who will graduate this summer, Bosket said the Zias have already proven a lot of the “experts” wrong. Now she hopes they can finish the job this weekend.
“They ranked us last (in the poll),” she said with a touch of disdain. “It’s good to prove those people wrong.
“I just want to do my best, and I want the team to play to our potential. We all want to reach the same goals — to win the (South) and win the Lone Star Conference tournament.”
ENMU weekend capsules
What/when/where: ENMU (18-7, 8-2) at Angelo State (12-13, 2-8), 7 p.m. (MST) today, and at Abilene Christian (12-13, 3-7), 3 p.m. (MST) Saturday, in Lone Star Conference South Division games.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3.
Notes: ENMU leads Texas A&M-Kingsville (17-9, 8-3) by one-half game heading into the final weekend of the division race, and can clinch the title by winning tonight if Kingsville loses at home to Midwestern State. If the Javelinas win and ENMU loses, TAMK clinches first place because it has the head-to-head tiebreaker. … The Greyhounds routed ACU 87-61 earlier at home, but had to come from behind to beat Angelo 83-78. … ASU had lost nine of its last 10 before beating Abilene Christian 93-87 at San Angelo on Monday. … Both opponents have played well at home — Angelo State is 11-4 while the Wildcats have gone 10-4. … The Rams are led by 6-3 junior G Kenny Smith (14.3 ppg) and 6-4 sophomore F Rashawn Childs (10.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg). … Leaders for the Wildcats are 6-3 junior G David Baxter (15.2), 6-5 senior F Tucker Pierson (13.8) and 6-4 senior G Rodney Lee (13.4). Baxter scored 37 in Monday’s loss at ASU, but Pierson missed the trip (illness). … Pierson tops the league in rebounding (9.2), just ahead of ENMU junior Jamaal Hunnicutt (8.7). … Cliff Green, ACU’s 5-11 senior PG, leads the league in assists (5.4) and steals (2.6).
Quotable: “All we’re trying to do is take these games one at a time. As far as what they do, it doesn’t really matter. We really have complete control of our situation.” — ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan.
What/when/where: ENMU (16-9, 10-2) at Angelo State (21-4, 8-4), 5 p.m. (MST) today, and at Abilene Christian (17-8, 9-3), 1 p.m. (MST) Saturday, in Lone Star Conference South Division games.
Radio: KSEL-AM 1450 tonight; KSEL-FM 95.3 on Saturday.
Notes: As it stands now, West Texas A&M (22-3, 10-2) has the tiebreaker over ENMU for the division title because the teams split head-to-head and WT beat third-place Abilene Christian earlier, while the Zias lost to the Wildcats 61-60. … Even if they lose at Angelo State, the Zias can clinch the South’s No. 2 seed and a first-round home game in the LSC tournament by beating Abilene Christian. Meantime, the Wildcats can win the division if they beat WT tonight and ENMU on Saturday and Angelo also sweeps. The best the Rambelles can do is second place. … Angelo is ranked 17th this week in NCAA Division II, while WT is tied for 19th. … Natalja Tsurbakbova, ASU’s 6-foot-3 junior C from Estonia, leads the LSC in scoring (20.6 ppg) and leads her team in rebounding (7.8) and assists (3.6). The Rambelles also get 13.6 ppg from 5-9 junior F Sharon Ballenger. … For ACU, 6-2 senior C Melanie Carter averages 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds and leads the conference in FG percentage (.585), while 6-3 senior C Lynsie Blau (12.1) and 5-7 sophomore G Ashley King (11.6) also score in double figures. … Blau leads the LSC in rebounding (11.3) and blocked shots (3.0). ACU easily leads the league in the latter category, averaging more than five blocks per game. … After splitting their first 12 games, the Wildcats have gone 11-2.
Quotable: “It’s going to be an exciting weekend. I think it’s going to come down to Saturday. All four teams will be very well-prepared for each other.” — ENMU women’s coach Dan Buzard.