Eastern men’s basketball celebrates seniors

Senior+guard+Reggie+Smith+shares+a+hug+with+Eastern+coach+Jay+Spoonhour+as+graduating+seniors+are+recognized+after+the+Panthers%27+73-65+win+over+the+Southeast+Missouri+Redhawks+on+Sunday+at+Lantz+Arena.++Smith+averaged+7.3+points+per+game+over+26+games+played+during+his+career+at+Eastern.
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Eastern men’s basketball celebrates seniors

Senior guard Reggie Smith shares a hug with Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour as graduating seniors are recognized after the Panthers' 73-65 win over the Southeast Missouri Redhawks on Sunday at Lantz Arena.  Smith averaged 7.3 points per game over 26 games played during his career at Eastern.

Senior guard Reggie Smith shares a hug with Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour as graduating seniors are recognized after the Panthers' 73-65 win over the Southeast Missouri Redhawks on Sunday at Lantz Arena. Smith averaged 7.3 points per game over 26 games played during his career at Eastern.

Jason Howell

Senior guard Reggie Smith shares a hug with Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour as graduating seniors are recognized after the Panthers' 73-65 win over the Southeast Missouri Redhawks on Sunday at Lantz Arena. Smith averaged 7.3 points per game over 26 games played during his career at Eastern.

Jason Howell

Jason Howell

Senior guard Reggie Smith shares a hug with Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour as graduating seniors are recognized after the Panthers' 73-65 win over the Southeast Missouri Redhawks on Sunday at Lantz Arena. Smith averaged 7.3 points per game over 26 games played during his career at Eastern.

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The five Eastern men’s basketball seniors were honored after the Panthers defeated Southeast Missouri, 73-65, Sunday in Lantz Arena.

Those five seniors include Dylan Chatman, Reggie Smith, Mat Piotrowski, Keenen Anderson and Josh Piper played in their last home game of their careers.

Those five were honored in a postgame ceremony, where they were presented with a framed jersey, and it was announced by the public address announcer that all five would graduate later this year.

A feat that pleased Eastern coach Jay Spoonhour.

“I’m so proud of them. The best thing, I wanted them to mention, is the fact they’re all going to graduate,” Spoonhour said. “I’m also really happy that this win secured a winning season because they put a ton of work in to not get one. I was glad they all got in the game, too.”

Eastern is now 16-12 and 9-6 in the OVC with one regular season game remaining. This is their first winning season since 2001.

Eastern trailed at halftime against the Redhawks which scared Chatman, but the result turned out the way the senior guard wanted it to.

“That’s definitely how I wanted to end my senior year,” Chatman said. “I’m going to miss playing basketball. I’m probably going to be in the Rec (Center) a lot now that I’m going to have too much free time.”

Chatman finished his last home game with seven points and six rebounds.

Fellow senior Josh Piper also finished with six rebounds, and helped lead the Panthers to victory with a few key defensive plays late. He said after the game that finishing with some points would’ve been good too.

“I wish my shots would’ve fallen, but I’ll take the win any day,” Piper said. “It’s never really fun not to take your shots, but I’ll take the win anytime that I can get one.

Piper finished with six rebounds and four assists.

The shots for falling for another senior, Reggie Smith, who finished with 10 points to lead all the Eastern seniors. He also had two rebounds and two assists to end his career at Lantz Arena.

“The ultimate goal was to just win the game,” Smith said. “It made the game better, the night a lot better, and seeing our family was great because we haven’t seen them in a long time. It was a special night for everyone.”

As for families, the seven foot, two inch Mat Piotrowski was met by his family after the game, including his brother Luke Piotrowski, who will be a senior next year. Mat said he may return next year for his brother’s senior day, but is going to miss the Eastern campus.

“I loved being a part of such a small campus,” Piotrowski said. “These last few years were fun, and it was great getting a win in my last home game.”

Spoonhour said the seniors helped lay a good foundation for the Eastern program, and that they’ll continue to get better because of them.

Piper finished his Eastern career having played in 109 games, which is the third most in program history.

“It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of change since I got here,” Piper said. “New coaching staffs, new players, new everything. It’s gone really fast and I can’t believe today is senior day.”

Smith said he is going to miss the family atmosphere at Eastern.

“The program changed so much since last year,” Smith said. “Every time you come here for every game, you know there is going to be people here supporting you.”

 

Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].