By Dave Wagner
Whatever happens this weekend, Eastern New Mexico University senior Jereena Bosket will end her basketball career at the school with an upbeat feeling.
Bosket transferred to ENMU from Barstow (Calif.) Community College in 2002 and she, along with the team, struggled mightily last season. The Zias lost 14 of 15 games in one stretch and finished with a record of 7-20.
What a difference a year makes.
Picked last in the Lone Star Conference South Division preseason poll, ENMU enters its final two regular-season contests — tonight at Angelo State and Saturday at Abilene Christian — tied for the division lead with West Texas A&M and fighting for the right, as South champion, to host to the conference tournament semifinals and finals next week.
Eastern (16-9, 10-2 South) has won seven in a row and 12 of its last 14 games.
“We feel good about it,” said Bosket, a 6-foot post from Las Vegas, Nev., and the only senior on the team. “This year has been a whole lot better than last year.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, but we just have to do whatever it takes to win these games.”
Bosket is third on the team in both scoring (11.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.0 rpg). She’s been a far steadier influence than she was last season, when her game yo-yoed like an unstable stock market.
“I don’t know if we can replace what Jereena brings to our team,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “She’s been playing a lot more consistently this year. I think she knows more about what the conference is like, and what we expected of her.”
One thing that could have contributed to her erratic junior campaign was for the first time she was a long way from home. Her junior college was only a couple of hours from Vegas.
Buzard said Bosket had a solid high school career, and averaged around 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman at Barstow. She then sustained a knee injury which sidelined her for two years.
He said ENMU wasn’t able to get her another year of eligibility from the NCAA, even though she’s actually played just three seasons.
As the team’s only true post player, Bosket often finds herself trying to outmaneuver players several inches taller.
“A lot of (her moves) are kind of unorthodox, but they get the job done,” Buzard said. “She’s just so strong.”
A criminal justice major who will graduate this summer, Bosket said the Zias have already proven a lot of the “experts” wrong. Now she hopes they can finish the job this weekend.
“They ranked us last (in the poll),” she said with a touch of disdain. “It’s good to prove those people wrong.
“I just want to do my best, and I want the team to play to our potential. We all want to reach the same goals — to win the (South) and win the Lone Star Conference tournament.”