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California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Regals and Kingsmen basketball become SCIAC season champions

The+Regals+celebrate+as+they+win+first+place+in+the+SCIAC+in+the+2023-2024+regular+season.
Izzy de Souza
The Regals celebrate as they win first place in the SCIAC in the 2023-2024 regular season.

For the first time ever, the California Lutheran University Kingsmen and Regals basketball teams both finished as regular season Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champions in the same year.

On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Kingsmen and Regals basketball teams ended their regular season with wins as they celebrated senior day in Gilbert Arena at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The Regals celebrated senior small forward Grace Godines and senior center Aliya DiMuro.

โ€œItโ€™s just so special, and I feel like this team, weโ€™re especially close, and we just have worked so hard and we feel like we deserve to be here,โ€ Aliya DiMuro said.

Aliya DiMuro said the game was a great experience, and although her nerves were high nearing the end, she knew the Regals were going to win.

โ€œI canโ€™t even put it into words, itโ€™s just been a great night, itโ€™s so specialโ€ฆI feel like when weโ€™re gonna win we just have that look in our eye and we just know that itโ€™s gonna happen,โ€ Aliya DiMuro said.

Head Womenโ€™s Basketball Coach Kelli DiMuro said winning SCIAC had been a dream of hers that she and her team have been working towards for years.

โ€œWe were ready for anything, and we promised them that we would get the dream of winning SCIAC,โ€ Kelli DiMuro said.

The team, Kelli DiMuro said, works on both chemistry and family as a close-knit group. She said their success didn’t just come from the few girls who get to see the court every game. The others, Kelli DiMuro said, practice very hard to get better every day.

“They may not get in the game, but they practice hard with us, really push us to the limit, and thatโ€™s why weโ€™re successful, because of those girls,โ€ Kelli DiMuro said.

Assistant Womenโ€™s Basketball Coach Melissa Sanchez said she doesnโ€™t want her team to settle for what they have and wants them to continue to stay focused and locked in as they move forward.

โ€œWeโ€™ve got first place, but we havenโ€™t done anything yetโ€ฆ We want, ultimately, to win the tournament, we want to go to NCAAs, so we have to stay focused,” Sanchez said. “One game, one practice at a time, and continue to push each other.โ€

Kingsmen basketball also celebrated it’s seniors: Devon Lewis, Riley Oโ€™Connor, Patrick Renane, Tommy Griffitts, Lojong Andarea Ladu, and senior broadcaster Logan Soforenko. Although not a player on the team, Soforenko has been the menโ€™s basketball play-by-play broadcaster for all four years he has been at Cal Lutheran. Senior point guard Stephen Davis did not celebrate senior day due to his commitment to return to Kingsmen basketball next season for a fifth year.

โ€œIโ€™m definitely looking forward to next year. Hopefully, we can have the same result,โ€ Davis said.

Davis is happy with the support that his team has received from his peers and others at Cal Lutheran.

โ€œWe havenโ€™t lost a home game this year, and thatโ€™s a credit to all of the fans and everybody showing support,โ€ Davis said.

Head Menโ€™s Basketball Coach Russell White also said he felt support from the school, and that in all his time at Cal Lutheran, he has never seen a full crowd in the gym.

โ€œThatโ€™s a personal goal of mine: have a full gym for a basketball game. Iโ€™ve never seen it before,โ€ White said.

White said that his team is always focusing on finding ways to get better, no matter what the results or records that come throughout the season may be.

โ€œIf you focus on the process and not the results, the results donโ€™t matterโ€ฆ If youโ€™re happy with the work you put inโ€ฆ sometimes winning is out of your hands, but whatโ€™s not out of your hands is how you prepare, how you approach, how hard you play, how well you play together,โ€ White said.

White said that each individual player has shown immense growth and that they build off of every game.

โ€œWeโ€™re just a little bit better, weโ€™re just a little bit older, weโ€™re a little bit smarter,โ€ White said.

Assistant Menโ€™s Basketball Coach Kyle Milligan also credited his teamโ€™s success to each playerโ€™s individual growth year-by-year.

โ€œA lot of learning experiences happened last year, with a team that was a little bit younger and now it kind of feels like weโ€™ve been there, weโ€™ve done this,โ€ Milligan said.

Milligan said that the team is a โ€œplayer-led team,โ€ and starts with their senior leaders. He said they take on a lot of accountability regarding themselves and how they develop which has molded the team together.

โ€œIf this one guyโ€™s not locked in, we just go to the next guy and we donโ€™t miss a beat,” Milligan said. “So there is almost some inner competition of ‘Hey if Iโ€™m not locked in and I don’t concentrate on the right things, Iโ€™m not gonna play today.'”

He said that this is one of the most balanced teams he has ever been a part of, and individually, no one on the team is top ten in rebounds or scoring in the league. Milligan said this accentuates the team’s teamwork and balance.

With this senior day win, the Kingsmen continue to grow their program record, obtaining their 18th consecutive win, according to CLUSports. Both the Kingsmen and the Regals remain undefeated at home this season, and both teams hope to keep that going.

The Regals will take on the Redlands Bulldogs at home for the women’s semifinal SCIAC game on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m., and the Kingsmen will take on the Chapman Panthers at home for the men’s semifinal SCIAC game on Friday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

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