Ethan Anderson knew something was up. He just didn’t know what to expect.
“After the game (on Saturday), when he said, ‘we have a meeting on Sunday at 5:45 — a quick meeting, maybe five minutes,’” Anderson recalled. “So I was wondering and thinking, ‘OK, that’s kind of sketchy because we’ve never had one like that before.’”
Sure enough, there was an impactful message to be delivered. NSU coach Larry Gipson told the RiverHawks that he was retiring at season’s end.
That means that tonight’s home clash with Pittsburg State could be Gipson’s final game ever coached in Tahlequah. Unless, of course, NSU vaults itself into the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association’s top eight and picks up a home contest in the first round of the league tournament.
The RiverHawks (12-10, 7-8 MIAA) are currently in ninth with four regular-season games left to go.
So with Gipson set to call it a career, Anderson said there’s even more motivation now to land a home game in the league tournament and try to sneak into the NCAA tournament field.
“We’ve got four games in the regular season and then the conference tournament,” Anderson said. “The goal is to win all the rest of the games and the conference tournament and get into the (NCAA) tournament and win the championship.”
NSU enters the final four-game stretch trailing Emporia State and Washburn by a half game. The RiverHawks are a full game behind Nebraska Kearney.
Working in NSU’s favor is Pittsburg State’s current five-game losing streak. The Gorillas (7-15, 3-12) are coming off an 87-69 loss at Fort Hays State.
In the girls game, which starts at 5:30, NSU (10-12, 7-8) will face the hottest team in the league. Pittsburg State (19-6, 12-) has won eight straight games, including a 71-67 victory over Fort Hays State on Saturday.