When fourth-year student manager Jim Segredo asked to don a St. Ambrose Fighting Bees uniform for Saturday's Senior Day festivities at Lee Lohman Arena, coach Ray Shovlain decided he would go a step beyond that.
"We were going to make sure he was in the game whether it was a 25-point game or real close," Shovlain said.
SAU's regular-season finale vs. Clarke College was anything but close when Segredo stepped onto the floor for his Rudy moment with under 3 minutes to play.
The 6-foot senior from Orland Park, Ill., even threw in an underhanded scoop shot with 1:26 remaining, the penultimate bucket in a 72-43 runaway Bees victory.
"It felt great," an emotional Segredo said after a win that completed an 18-12 bounce-back SAU regular-season. "I am very lucky to be a part of this program. What Coach Ray and my teammates have done for me is a blessing. This is something I'll remember all my life."
Segredo wasn't the only Bees senior to enjoy a special day. Guard Alex Washington, a former starter who had been relegated to a deep reserve role this year, led the team with a season-high 17 points and Alex Burkle, another former starter who played sixth man this year, added 14.
Shovlain said all three seniors, each a solid student, represent the best of SAU basketball.
"This is a program that recognizes that the contributions of second and third-tier players and student managers make the program," said the veteran coach. "All three are great reflections of this university."
Washington scored 11 of his 17 as Ambrose ran away from the Crusaders in the second half.
"I just try to make my minutes positive," the guard from Evergreen Park, Ill., said of his approach to this season.
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Saturday's stalwart showing sure was a positive ending.
"You don't want to be remembered for scoring two points on your last night at home," he said.
The Bees finished 9-7 and tied for fifth in Midwest Collegiate Conference. They will visit fourth-place Ashford (19-11, 10-6) on Wednesday in Clinton, Iowa, to open MCC postseason tourney play.
Saturday was about seniors such as Segredo.
"I love that kid," Washington said. "He put just as much into this team as anyone. He deserved to have a 20-point night. But we'll take two."