Mesa State seniors emphasize the importance of school
They’ve been through some tough times on the basketball court, but Stephanie Delgado and Abby Hancock have persevered.
The Mesa State College seniors will be honored Saturday night before they play their final home game. The Mavericks (5-18, 2-13 RMAC) host Adams State (11-12, 7-8 RMAC) at 6 p.m. at Brownson Arena.
On Friday, Mesa State hosts the No. 2 ranked team in the country, Fort Lewis (22-1, 15-0 RMAC), at 6 p.m. on Friday at Brownson Arena.
“It’s a little surreal,” Hancock said of her final home games. “It crept up on me. We’ve had an up and down season, but the end was always off in the distance. Now, it’s here.”
The seniors have endured two losing seasons, including this one, but have played hard through it all while being successful in the classroom.
Both of them were selected to the RMAC All-Academic team for the third consecutive year this season.
“School is definitely number one,” Delgado said. “The fact that I can come to school and play basketball is a plus. That’s something a lot of kids don’t get to experience. Coming into college it was tough maintaining school and basketball, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought, if you get your priorities straight.”
Delgado has another semester before she earns her bachelor’s degree, but she plans to return to her hometown of Las Vegas, Nev., and work in marketing.
Hancock, who is from Highlands Ranch, is studying English with a concentration in secondary education. She’s minoring in writing and Spanish.
She’ll finish her classes this spring and do an internship next fall.
“It taught me a lot about time management and organization,” Hancock said of balancing school and activities. “My parents were big on the fact school always comes first. Four years is definitely stressful being a student as well as an athlete.”
This year, the two have maintained their 3.0-plus grade-point averages while taking on an even bigger role on the court.
“It’s always enjoyable to have kids go through a program for four years,” Mesa State coach Timi Brown said. “Delgado has really come into her own. She is a joy to coach. It’s sad to see it coming to an end, but they’ll begin a new chapter in their lives.”
Delgado became the go-to player this season and leads the team in scoring (12.6 points a game) and rebounding (7.0 per game). She has posted career highs this season in points (24) and rebounds (15). She is shooting an RMAC second-best 56.5 percent from the floor. She is also tied with Celeste King (1995-97) in all-time field goal percentage at Mesa State. Delgado is the 26th all-time leading scorer in Mesa State history entering this weekend with 706 points.
“I’m proud of the way I’ve been playing,” Delgado said. “I came in and did the best I could. We lost two post players in recruiting and it put more pressure on me. I went out and played and did my best.
“It’s nice I’ve done my personal best, but I’m pretty humble. I think about what I could’ve done better.”
Hancock provides a defensive presence and a spark off the bench. She has 497 career points, which ranks 43rd all-time at Mesa State.
Although the Mavericks will finish with their worst record in their Division II history, the seniors are hoping to finish strong.
“At this point, we can’t make the playoffs, but we can take teams out of it or at least lower their seed,” Delgado said. “With the Think Pink Night and Senior Night, that will give us an extra energy boost so we can hopefully go out strong.”