The Maryville College Scots celebrated Senior Day on Sunday afternoon, as MC downed the LaGrange College Panthers, 97-69.
Maryville College Head Coach Randy Lambert and his staff honored the careers of Emanuelle Garcia, Danterrius Bray, Kaleb Estes, Chris Watson, Dante Hoppa, Calvin Songster and Emier Bowman before Sunday's game, as the Scots lit up the nets for 16 3-pointers in the game.
"It was a little tough being my last game here," Lambert said. "When I saw my seniors standing out there, I'm just so happy for those guys…I was just very, very happy for them. To see all of them going to graduate is just very special for me. I think those guys will do well in whatever vocation they choose and whatever direction they plan to head on in their future."
This senior class has compiled a record of 72-31, while claiming a 40-19 mark in USA South play. They have claimed a pair of regular season titles, the first USA South Tournament title in school history and advanced to the NCAA Tournament on one occasion.
"It means a lot to me, but I plan on playing another game here," Hoppa – the Scots' leading scorer – said. "We have a couple more goals ahead of us, and hopefully, we finish out this regular season the right way and make a run in the Conference Tournament. It means a lot that I can finish like this on Senior Day in front of my family and this great home crowd, but we still have some work ahead of us. We can't get too caught up in that."
MC senior Songster accomplished one of his goals on Sunday, as the long-range shooter broke the Maryville College career 3-point record.
The Johnson City, Tenn. native posted his 242nd career trey at the 16:14 mark of the second half with a pull-up jumper to break the 26-year-old record.
"It's hard to even grasp it right now," Songster said. "I think it's going to take me a few hours after I shower and settle down for it to really hit me. Just seeing Lambert and how proud he was – not only for the record but for us to play that well on Senior Night – that's means the most to me, just seeing how happy we made him today. Breaking the record is such a huge accomplishment."
Songster went 5-of-5 from beyond the arc, as he currently holds 244 career 3-pointers. He broke Kelvin Richardson's mark of 241 set in 1990-1993.
"Coach P said that he thinks [Richardson] is the best player to every play here," Songster said. "It's crazy to me. Like I said, it means a lot. I've never met him, but I'd love to meet him and talk about it. I want to push it out a little further. We've got a few games left.
"It's a blessing. I'm so happy about it, but there's absolutely no way that it could have been done without Coach Lambert and Coach Placeres that have been there since day one. Having teammates like Dante Hoppa, Emier Bowman, Kaleb Estes, and early on in my career, Jaumonee Byrd – all those people that played a role to help spread the floor for me, help me feel comfortable and help me feel confident. It's not just me. It's everybody. It really is."
Hoppa had just as much high praise for his teammate.
"He's the best shooter I've ever played with," the senior said. "I don't know about what you have seen in the history of this sport, in this game, in this gym, but he can shoot better than anyone I've ever seen. It makes me proud to play with somebody like that and him be my counterpart. Hopefully, we can ride this ship out as far as it can go."
MC posted 11 treys in the first half, shooting 73.3 percent from long range in the first 20 minutes.
"It was a nice game," Lambert said. "I thought our kids played extremely hard. They battled. We ended up out-rebounding them, which is what I wanted to see. That was a goal for today. We were embarrassed on the boards yesterday, but today, we just did our job. We shot the ball extremely well."
Maryville held the advantage on the boards, 43-40, as they ended the day shooting 69.6 percent from beyond the arc. They went 16-of-23 from 3-point range, missing the school record by only one trey.
MC used that key shooting to take a 45-33 lead to the break. They would go on to outscore the Panthers, 52-36, in the second half for the win.
Maryville (16-7, 12-4 USA South) was led by Hoppa's 21 points, six rebounds, two assist and a steal. The senior went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, as Songster's 5-of-5 from long distance helped him to 19 points for the game. Songster added a team-high eight assists to go with three rebounds, and two steals.
Estes – also a senior – added 13 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Bowman added 10 points, five blocks, four steals and a pair of boards. J.P. McGhee rounded out five double-digit scorers for the Scots with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Bray had seven points, six assists and four rebounds, as Nick Clifton added seven points, seven rebounds and a trio of blocks. Garcia had five points, while J.R. Sanders tallied three points.
LaGrange (15-8, 11-5) was led by Jamison McCray's 14 points. Lincoln Anderson and Julian Cameron had a dozen points each, while Travis Thompson added a dozen rebounds.
For Maryville, it was more than just a victory for the seven seniors.
"I really couldn't have imagined the feeling, seeing all these guys walking out in front of me," Songster said. "Since they were freshmen here, we immediately became friends.
"They been best friends to me – relationships that I'm totally confident will carry on way past this. To just have that moment with all of them, it means a lot."