When coach Bob Boldon was asked what he’s going to miss most about his first full recruiting class, he took a deep breath and gathered his thoughts.
“The thing I’ll miss the most about the senior class is that they were here when it was bad and going through that year with them,” Boldon said. “That was really special.”
With 1:27 left in the game, Boldon did a platoon swap to give his seniors one last standing ovation. Tmisht Stinson, Quiera Lampkins, Jasmine Weatherspoon, Hannah Boesinger and Yamonie Jenkins all high-fived each other and smiled as they strut off the court for one last regular season game.
Once they reached the bench, they all had one final group-hug, together with the sixth senior, Destini Cooper.
“She started with us and she’s been a big part of our lives,” Weatherspoon said. “It was like hugging a sister after we were done.”
For the last time, the seniors stepped on the court and sealed a 62-48 win over Akron to close the season.
Boldon honored his senior class by starting all five of them.
“(I did it) out of respect for what those kids have done,” Boldon said.
The game plan going into Saturday was to conserve energy ahead of the Mid-American Conference Tournament opener on Monday night. As a No. 5 seed, Ohio will need to win in The Convo before playing in Cleveland.
Ohio didn’t have to exert much energy throughout the game. While the team did trail for most of the first half, it was a third-quarter spurt that gave Ohio a comfortable lead. From then, it was about playing not to lose.
At the conclusion of the game, during the senior ceremony on the court, it set in for the seniors that it was coming to an end.
From being the winningest class in Ohio history to winning two regular-season MAC conference titles, winning a MAC Tournament title and claiming a NCAA Tournament berth, the success of the program rests on the shoulders of the seniors.
“To be able to accomplish what they accomplished, they completely transformed their games through a lot of work,” Boldon said. “They just kind of persevered … for all that they have accomplished, they have been humble.”
The most successful class in program history has a lot to be proud of, but the season isn’t over yet.
The Bobcats will face Eastern Michigan on Monday night in The Convo to start the conference tournament and they are going to play this game as if they were atop the MAC instead of the “underdogs.”
“We needed something new,” Boldon said. “This team wanted to win the conference and when you don’t win the conference, it kind of sucks and it’s not real exciting to play games anymore.
“Now this kind of gives you something new to play for.”