Vanessa Kuffner, Staff Writer
Luke Chavez and Makenna Schultz swept the GNAC Player of the Week, representing SMU basketball for Week 22 on Monday Jan. 29. This is Chavez’s third GNAC player of the week award. Chavez, from Woodacre, Calif., played at South Puget Sound Community College before transferring to SMU, where he led them to finish first in the West Region. In the same year, Chavez was named the West Region Most Valuable Player of the Year and Conference Player of the Year. He came to Saint Martin’s as a junior, and is having a successful season helping to lead the Saints in their longest game winning streak in school history, with eight straight wins before losing to nationally ranked Western Oregon University.
Head coach for the men’s team, Alex Pribble, who has been coaching for the Saints for three years, is very happy to see Chavez’s success. Pribble says “Luke is having a very special year and he’s only a junior right now, but he is getting better and better each time timeout. Currently he is going through some adversity, some injury and sickness. But he is a tough kid and has been a great leader for us. So, I think when a team has success individual accolade’s come along with that, and I think Luke is very deserving of the awards that he has been getting.” As the main guard for the Saints, Luke is one of the top scorers in the conference, averaging 16.1 points per game.
Pribble describes Chavez’s roll on the team as, “…a decision maker on the team and [the] guys on the team look for him to make plays. I think he is been doing a great job for us, he is a really tough kid, he makes hustle plays for us, he dives on the floor for loose balls, he defends with passion. Most importantly he is a leader, the only thing that Luke cares about is the team’s success and helping his team become better.” Chavez has shown impressive skills in leadership and his great love for the game. Because of this, he has been named Player of the Week back to back in the month of January. His best trait, according to Pribble, is the fact that he makes his teammates better.
The men’s team have four games left, including three home games. In a tough battle to the lead, the Saints unfortunately lost 86-73 to the Wolves, despite the Saints putting up a good fight. Pribble asks, “We want all the Saints to know that we are extremely proud to represent the school, students and community and there is nothing quite like when all the students are in here, making noise and having fun. We really hope that people show up these last few games and come support us because that would be a really fun finale.” The team will need all of our support, to help them finish their season on a winning streak again. “We really appreciate the support when you guys pack the pavilion, it helps us out a lot more, so please come support us,” said Chavez.
A big shout out to Makenna Schultz for her first GNAC Player of the Week award. Schultz, from River Ridge High School in Lacey, Wash., was named to second and first All-League team during her years there as well as helping to lead her team to state three years in a row. This season as a sophomore, Schultz has played in all 24 games and averages 12.4 points per game.
“I think she has great work ethic, she is one of those players that always sees the bright side. So, when things are going wrong and there’s a lot of adversity she doesn’t get down. She really tries to stay positive and she has a tremendous amount of heart and she really has a lot of determination and will power to be successful. I think that’s the biggest thing that sets her apart from most people,” commented head coach Christy Martin. “She really understands the game and she has been super successful since coming to play for Saint Martin’s.”
In a recent game against Seattle Pacific University, Schultz’ offensive game was taken to a new level when she scored a career high of 33 points on six out of seven three-pointers. An impressive improvement from previous games where she was averaging 16 points a game. Unfortunately, her amazing effort to win the offensive shootout wasn’t quite enough, and the victory went to the Falcons 94-76. In a post-game interview, Martin praised Schultz for “…creating her own shots, and that’s something in women’s basketball you don’t see a lot of is someone who can actually get their own shots. She is very crafty, she’s teeny tiny so she gets in the gaps and slide through people very very fast. So, I think she is able to create a lot of offense on her own and we are going to look for her to do that more on her own as well as challenge her to set other people as well…”
The women’s team only has two home games left against Concordia University and Western Oregon University. Even the win-loss column doesn’t show major successes, Coach Martin is still confident in the team. “Aside [from the wins and loss column] we’re are fighting through it and learning how tough we really are, which is setting the foundation for the program’s success in years to come.” Martin adds, “One of the things we love is people who support when things aren’t going the best…those are the people that for us are going to be the people we look to and will be appreciate of…”