Best moments for Mesa seniors? To be determined

Ryan Mortensen, the most vertically challenged of the seniors on the Mesa state basketball team, finally gets to dunk a basketball to the delight of his senior teammates, from left to right, Aaron Markham, Sean Flohr, Michael Dominguez, Justin Ashbaugh and Jase Herl.

The week before the final regular-season home game, each senior at Mesa State College is handed a sheet of paper and asked to jot down highlights and memories of their playing careers to be read during Senior Night.

All six seniors on the men’s basketball team decided their highlights or favorite memories haven’t happened yet.

“I put this whole season,” point guard Ryan Mortensen said.

“I put ‘pending’ on mine,” forward Sean Flohr said.

Point guard Aaron Markham jotted down the 2007 RMAC West Division title, but added, “Get back to me.”

Ditto for Justin Ashbaugh, Jase Herl and Michael Dominguez.

The Mavericks (20-4, 14-3 RMAC), who won the West Division title Tuesday night without even playing after Fort Lewis lost to Adams State in overtime, can check off one goal.

The next goal is to win the RMAC overall title, then the RMAC Shootout.

Then they’ll take aim at the Central Regional.

The unique mix of seniors — two fifth-year seniors, a four-year transfer, two junior college transfers and one Division I transfer — has meshed into a mature, experienced group that has put together one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program.

Saturday night is Senior Night, although they’ll have at least one more home game March 2 in the first round of the RMAC Shootout.

The Mavs need to beat both CSU-Pueblo on Friday night and New Mexico Highlands on Saturday to secure the overall RMAC championship.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said guard Jase Herl, who should be back on the court this weekend after missing three games with a right ankle sprain. “It’s always fun playing at home and you’ve got your family here. And we’re playing big games. As an athlete, you’d rather play in big games.”

The seniors each took time this week to reflect on their careers.

Aaron Markham, point guard

Years at Mesa: 5, redshirted as a freshman out of Roaring Fork High School

Statistically speaking: Markham has averaged 3.48 points per game with 252 assists, nearly 2 1⁄2 assists per game and has nearly twice as many assists as turnovers in his career. He’s started 96 of 104 games.

Miss the least?: “I don’t have to go to Highlands, Chadron or Kearney ever again. Some of those trips are rough.”

Parting thoughts: “You want to leave this program better than when you got here. Coach (Jim) Heaps and the seniors talked to us when I was a freshman about being a Mav, showing up every day and working as hard as you can and letting the results fall where they may. ... Five years, I feel like I’m a Mav now.”

Sean Flohr, forward

Years at Mesa: 5, redshirted as a freshman out of Glenwood Springs High School

Statistically speaking: Flohr has averaged 5.93 points per game, shot 43.7 percent from the 3-point line and 45.9 percent from the field. He’s played in 79 games, starting one.

Miss the least?: “I definitely remember waking up early every single year. I wouldn’t expect a lot of that in my future. I’ve been dealing with a lot of pain toward the end, so it’ll be a relief to heal and feel good for a change.”

Parting thoughts: “I would say more than anything, expect results and work for it. If you come out with the mindset that nobody’s going to beat you, for the younger guys, they should come through this program expecting success and being willing to work for it.”

Ryan Mortensen, point guard

Years at Mesa: 4, sat out one season after transferring at Fort Lewis, where he played as a freshman

Statistically speaking: Mortensen has scored 3.68 points per game at Mesa with 142 assists. He shoots 40.7 percent from the field and has started four of 79 games.

Miss the least?: “Suicides (sprints). I won’t ever run another suicide again, ever.” Early-morning workouts? “I won’t miss those, either.”

Parting thoughts: “When you’re a senior you really do see all the work that’s gone into it, years and years. You have a chance to look back on it and you put in a lot of work. I’m excited for it to pay off and have a chance to win a championship.”

Justin Ashbaugh, forward

Years at Mesa: 3 years, transferred from Scottsdale Community College, sat out last season with knee injury

Statistically speaking: Ashbaugh has averaged 10.6 points per game, shooting 45.9 percent from the field. He has 259 rebounds, an average of 5 per game.

Miss the least?: “At times I won’t miss the training room. At times I won’t miss catching elbows from Ian (Anderson) and Mike (Bear) every day. That goes for Lance (Fite), too. I won’t miss the RMAC travel schedule. That’s brutal.”

Parting thoughts: “Games here are fun. I love playing here. It’s one of the best places in the RMAC. We’ve had amazing crowds this year. That’s what I’ll miss the most.”

Jase Herl, guard

Years at Mesa: 2, transferred from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College.

Statistically speaking: Herl has averaged 12.5 points a game in his two years at Mesa, starting all 49 games. He leads Mesa in assists (100) and rebounds (157) this season. He’s shooting 45.5 percent from the field at Mesa.

Miss the least?: “McDonald’s (post-game meals). I’m so sick of McDonald’s, I don’t think I ever want to eat there any more. I understand, you can’t blame the coaches, we’ve got a four- or five-hour bus ride and you need to get something quick and it happens to be McDonald’s.”

Parting thoughts: “I’ve been lucky to find a school that I fit in real well. That has a lot to do with the guys like Aaron and Sean and Morty, who accept the guys who only come in for two years or in Mike’s case, one year. It’s gone by really fast, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Michael Dominguez, forward

Years at Mesa: 1, transferred from Florida International University

Statistically speaking: Dominguez is the Mavs’ leading scorer this season, averaging 21.3 points per game. He’s second on the team in assists (85) and rebounds (117). He’s started all 24 games.

Miss the least?: “Yeah, the convenience store dinners ... the trips, the far bus rides. I kind of got spoiled at FIU since we flew everywhere. And the 6 a.m. (workouts). Who wants to wake up early?”

Parting thoughts: “I’ve enjoyed my time here. I wish sometimes I had more years here, but at the same time, (Northeastern Junior College) and FIU helped me as a player and as a person. The time here has been great, I’ve enjoyed Grand Junction, Mesa State, my teammates, coaches. The whole atmosphere has been great.”


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