Manchester University
Oak Leaves

February 19, 2016

Senior basketball Women
AIR BUDS Katie Arterburn, Justine Kruger, and Kelcey Daugherty pose with their number one fan.

Spartan Seniors Enjoy Emotional Last Game

Stratton Smith

On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Manchester women's basketball program hosted Rose Hulman as the Spartans celebrated their senior night by honoring three seniors: Katie Arterburn, Kelcey Daugherty, and Justine Spencer.

Though the Spartans were defeated 50-55 by the Engineers, the three seniors completed a journey that made an everlasting impact on their teammates. "My overall relationship with the three of them is something I never want to lose," said junior guard, Jenifer Lee. "I've grown so close to them over the past three years and I wouldn't change it for the world. We'll always have each other's back no matter what."

Each of the seniors had different skills that helped the team thrive on the court. "Kelcey led the team by taking all of us under her wing and making sure we stuck together, and Justine would lead by her hard work during practices," Lee said. "Katie would lead by being our go-to player when we would need her for clutch situations."

Saturday’s game remained close until the final minute, but the emotional story of Kelcey Daugherty's season-ending injury stole the show. Earlier in the season, Daugherty tore her ACL during play and was forced to sit out the rest of her senior season. "I was already emotional about it being my senior year and the last year I was able to play,” she said. “So having this injury and having my season cut shorter than expected was tough on me. I tried to remain as positive as I could and adapt to my new role as a leader off the floor."

This also took an emotional toll on the other two seniors who had played their entire careers with Daugherty. "Kelcey has always been one of our hardest-working individuals on the team, so to see her go down with a season-ending injury was hard," Kruger said.

Arterburn agreed. ”Kelcey is the last person I want to see tear their ACL because she wants nothing but the best for everyone," she said.
Before the game started, Manchester’s team asked the Engineers to let Daugherty score her final basket as a Spartan on her senior night. As the Engineers won the tip-off, the Spartans let them score an uncontested layup. There was some confusion in the crowd until the ball was passed to Daugherty. "Mainly, I was just thinking 'don't miss' when I was shooting, but the whole experience gave me closure, considering I was done playing so instantly,” she said. Daugherty did not miss.

As Daugherty got a standing ovation from the entire bench, coaching staff and several fans, Manchester called a timeout. There were few dry eyes from the bench. "I was so happy for Kelcey scoring her last basket,” Lee said. “She has worked so hard the past four years to be where she is now and take over the point guard position.”

It seemed that no other two players were happier for Daugherty than her two supporting seniors. "We knew how much basketball and this program means to her, so we wanted to do something to honor her and her dedication to the team," Kruger said. 
Arterburn added: ”It meant a lot to the team for Kelcey to hit her last basket. It was very emotional, but very exciting at the same time and to see her smile and be happy is great."

As the seniors’ final season is coming to a close, they reflected on their four years in the program. "I absolutely loved being a part of the women's basketball program here at Manchester," Daugherty said. "The program pushed me to be better in all areas of my life."

Arterburn, the leading three-point shooter on the team, hopes to leave a legacy in the program. "Never give up," she said. "I want the younger girls to learn that there are going to be bumps in the road it just matters how you handle it and how strong they fight back."

Kruger agreed with Arterburn on leaving the program as a role model. "I hope that I've been a good leader and friend to all of them," she added.