It quickly becomes clear that the Eagles men’s basketball team is fond of its three long-standing senior players. As the trio of athletes is interviewed by The Eagle, their junior teammate, Joshua Hatcher, forward of Oakland, Calif., chimes in to offer his opinion of his athletic elders.
He confirms with an emphatic “yes” that he sees the group as leaders on the court.
“When it comes to getting work done,” Hatcher says, “we always go to my man C-Mac,” indicating the intensely modest point guard Christian McGhee of Pine Ridge, S.D.
“When it comes to big plays,” Hatcher says, “it’s all about big man Mo,” nodding at the imposing, yet personable, 6-foot-7-inch, San Franciscan center Moala Tautuaa.
“And when it comes down to that clutch-time,” Hatcher says, “we need that ‘three-peezy’ [3-pointer],” as he playfully tousles the hair of Long Beach, Calif., guard Kevin McClelland.
Hatcher’s monologue, although obviously lighthearted and at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek, is underlined by an honest appreciation for the veteran players, who have each played for Chadron since their freshman year. Tautuaa, who is a year older than the other two, joined the team in 2007. McGhee and McClelland joined in 2008.
According to records from CSC’s athletics page, the crew first saw action on the court together on Nov. 15, 2008, during the home opener against Augustana College, Sioux Falls S.D. Chadron claimed an 83-78 victory.
Tautuaa, McGhee and McClelland identified this game, along with games against Division I opponents such as Colorado State University, Fort Collins and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, among their college career highlights.
Tautuaa likened the three to “brothers.”
“We just know each other. We’ve got a lot of trust,” said McClelland.
After three years of playing together, McGhee, McClelland, and Tautuaa, appointed by the coaching staff as 2011-12 team captains, have stepped into leadership roles for the team.
“We understand the system and the coaches,” said Tautuaa, “We try to help the younger guys.”
“We try to set an example in everything we do,” added McGhee.
The threesome will soon be passing the torch to their successors, but they’re not looking forward to it.
“You don’t think about it during the year, but once it’s over…” said McGhee.
McClelland finished for him: “It goes fast.”
“It’s going to be bittersweet,” McClelland continued, “It’s sweet because we had four years of playing together, but it’s sad knowing our career is over.”
Head Coach Brent Bargen recruited the three players and has coached them through all four years of their eligibility.
“We’ve gone through a lot together,” said Bargen. “I give them a lot of credit for sticking it out. It says a lot about their character.”
Tautuaa, McClelland, and McGhee each plan to graduate at the end of the spring 2012 semester.