When Paul Wells graduates from Schreiner this May, he won’t leave with many regrets.
The senior forward has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments during his four years at the University. He helped the Mountaineers win the SCAC championship in 2018. He’s a captain and one of the leading scorers (13.8 points per game) on this year’s squad. And he has appeared on the President’s List each semester.
During that span, he’s also built meaningful relationships with his coaches, professors and teammates.
“(Schreiner) means a lot to me,” Wells said. “I love the Hill Country; I love the university … it’s given back to me a lot.”
Before his basketball career concludes, Wells has one more goal: He wants to play in the SCAC tournament, having an opportunity to clinch a NCAA tournament berth on Schreiner’s home court.
The good news is that the Mountaineers (7-14, 5-9) control their own destiny to earn a spot in the conference tournament, but they likely have to win their final four games. They will try win the first on Friday when they visit Colorado College, which is also trying to win to make the conference tournament on Feb. 28 at Schreiner.
“All you can do is put yourself in the best position possible to be successful,” first-year coach Marwan Elrakabawy said. “That’s trying to win your preparation, trying to win your effort and hopefully we live with whatever the result is. We can’t really worry about winning all four; we can’t even worry about winning one. All we can do is worry about having the best practice we can each day, and hopefully that will carry over to success this weekend.”
It hasn’t been easy attaining success this season. The Mountaineers have faced plenty of adversity this season. At the beginning, they endured injuries and suspension. Wells even missed Schreiner’s 71-64 loss to Texas Lutheran on Jan. 25 because of a death in a family.
For a period, the Mountaineers were reeling, suffering a four-game losing streak. They snapped the skid last Saturday, however, with a 76-64 win over Dallas. Junior Matthew Rindahl led the Mountaineers with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Wells added 13 points. J’Sean Miller bolstered the Mountaineers in the second half, registering 9 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists and Corbin Hurd made the most of his 11 minutes of playing time, earning 9 points. Elrakabawy was encouraged to see so many contributions from his reserves. He’s hoping that trend continues this weekend.
“Things are never as bad as you think you are when you are losing, and things are never as good as you think they are when you are winning, but the win was very important for us psychologically,” Marwan Elrakabawy said. “We had some guys really step up and play one of their better games of the season. … It was great seeing (those players) step up and make plays and fill roles that we needed.”
He also knows his Mountaineers will face plenty of obstacles this weekend. It’s always a challenged adjusting to Colorado’s altitude. Plus, they will have to adapt to a new group of officials. The Tigers are also battling for a spot in the conference tournament, so they are going to give their best effort on Friday.
The Mountaineers will have to match that intensity.
“They are going to throw their best punch at us; we just have to keep coming every time we get hit,” Elrakabawy said. “Bad things are going to happen. … How well are we going to bounce back?”
By most standards, the Lady Mountaineers’ season has been successful so far. The Lady Mountaineers (11-10, 9-5) have already accomplished one major preseason goal, clinching a berth in the SCAC Conference tournament. Now, they are focused on achieving other aspirations.
They hope to improve their seeding in the the tourney (They are currently No.5 in the standings but can move up to No. 3 with a strong finish). On Friday, they visit Colorado College, hoping to avenge a 69-63 loss they suffered at home to the Tigers on Jan. 17.
Coach Samantha Davidson wants to see her team finish the season with a winning record. Considering four of the Lady Mountaineers’ leading scorers are underclassmen, Davidson believes a winning record will give her young squad momentum entering the offseason.
“They are setting the foundation for what our program is and what it’s going to be in the future,” Davidson said. “(Finishing with a winning record) sets that foundation for us.”