Pat Burns, Staff Writer
Luke Chavez was both the top scorer and leader throughout the Saints’ Men’s Basketball Team’s historical 25-win season. This season accounted for the most wins in school history, the first time the Saints went to a Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship game, the first appearance in the NCAA DII tournament, and the first win in the NCAA tournament in school history. All of these things could not have been accomplished without the effort of the junior point guard Luke Chavez.
First, Chavez was named as the Newcomer of Year for the GNAC, an award given to a player that is not a freshman, but is playing in their first year in the conference. Chavez averaged 16.4 ppg, 4.2 apg, and 4.6 rpg in GNAC games. During that 19 game span, he averaged over 30 minutes a game, and was clearly the go-to guy for the Saints. His strong performance in conference play led him to a selection on the GNAC All-Conference First Team as well. His stats were good enough for sixth in ppg, and first in apg.
Chavez’s great performance didn’t stop after conference play, as he continued on into the NCAA Tournament where he led the Saints to their first ever win versus Cal Poly Pomona (CPP). The Saints went into the game as the fifth seed in the West Region. Chavez led the Saints as far as the semifinal game in the region before falling to Western Oregon (WOU). However, during these two tournament games, Chavez kept up his strong work on the floor. Against CPP, Chavez scored 16 points over 38 minutes, while adding four rebounds, and three assists. He then went on to score 22 points versus WOU, while adding three assists and three rebounds.
These two performances were strong enough for him to be named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All Region First Team. This award was voted on by the coaches in the tournament.
Chavez was also honored by being selected to the Division II Conference Commissioners Association West Region (D2CCA) second team. This award was also based on his play in the NCAA tournament, and was voted on by the Sports Information Directors (SID), from the schools within the West region. This award was special because most of the schools in the West region are a part of the GNAC, which means that these SIDs might not have known much about Chavez before the tournament, but he was able to impress them enough to gain these honors.
Chavez will enter next year as a senior on a Saints team that is looking to return back to the NCAA tournament and progress further the next time around. Chavez will be surrounded by many of the same players from this season, as only one senior, Matt Dahlen, ended his career with the Saints. This means that if Chavez can repeat his performance from this year, then the Saints will have another strong season.
Overall, the Saints’ magical season came to end after the loss to Western Oregon University in the NCAA Tournament. Chavez will look to build off the season into his senior year for the Saints. This year, the Saints had a shot to get into the Elite 8 because they would have faced Cal Baptist University in the west region final who they already had beat earlier this year. This goes to show how close the Saints were to national attention, and just how far they have come this season.