As she stood there with her family, holding her framed ORU basketball jersey, one could admit: It has been quite a ride through "Green Country" for former Adair star basketball player Kevi Luper.
What appeared to be a promising career at Adair High School was dashed when Luper's knee injuries cost her significant portions of Kevi's sophomore and junior seasons. But she returned to have a great senior year -- one worthy of being Tulsa Channel 8's "Elite 8" Award overall winner.
A couple blinks later, Kevi is staring at the ORU introduction video playing on the jumbotron which hangs over the Mabee Center's hardwood floor, about to be announced in the starting lineup in Tulsa for the last time.
"It seems just like yesterday we were stepping foot back on campus for our senior year," Luper said during the team's post-game press conference following their win over Central Arkansas. "It's like the years just keep getting faster and faster."
At least Luper has plenty of school records to show for that accelerated time spent. Perhaps the most notable is being the program's all-time scoring leader with over 2,700 points. When asked after Tuesday's game what Luper would remember the most about her college career, she turned away for a moment to fight back the tears and was choked up.
"Just the memories that we've made here," Luper quietly said, her voice wavering as she glanced over at the two senior teammates sitting beside her. "They're my best friends."
"Off the court and on the court, [Jaci Bigham and Savanna Buck] are the best support group I could have ever had. Of course coach Misti [Cussens], I like the way that she coaches. When I look back, I'll think about all the wins that we've had and all of the records that the three of us have set, but mostly, I'll remember the fun that we've had and the memories that we've made."
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