by Adrian Pelayo
It’s the end of the fourth quarter andSouth Mountain CC holds a three-point lead over the Gauchos’ basketball team. Starting guard, Emery Range, should be on the floor helping his teammates win the game when it counts most, but there is just one problem. Range had just committed his fifth foul of the contest, ending his game prematurely.
So there sat Range, on the bench, where no athlete in any sport wants to be when the game is on the line. He wasn’t alone in foul trouble, after all this was the game that saw three players given technical fouls, and a South Mountain player nearly ejected from the game. Isaiah Lopez, another regular starter for the Gauchos had also fouled out.
South Mountain would go on to win 107-103 in what turned out to be an offensive show and a foul happy contest.
“You’ve got a bunch of riled up players, they get too caught up in the action, they try to do things like alley-oops and massive dunks when they should just go for the easy layup—and yes, Coach Lopez gets extremely upset when things like that happen. Those points could end up winning the game for you in the long-run,” Range said.
The Gauchos are 1-5 since the South Mountain loss, and enter the homestretch of the 2015 season below .500 at 11-16.
Range, a redshirt sophomore playing his final season for the Gauchos, currently leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.1 points a game as of Feb. 18. It’s been a long road for Range throughout his basketball career, one that started at Willow Canyon High School in Surprise. There he played all four years on the varsity squad under head coach Robert Bohon.
“Being able to play all four years on varsity really meant a lot to me, it’s not very often a freshman makes varsity at a big school like Willow but I was glad to be on the team my first year on campus,” Range said.
Range ended up playing college basketball the year after his graduation, but it was not for the Gauchos, and it’s not exactly where he wanted to end up either.
“It was really a last minute decision, I had several D1 JuCo schools that wanted me but I waited too long to sign. I wanted to play ball at a university; I was getting looked at by some D2 schools, but when my SAT scores came in I failed by 10 points. So ultimately it was one of my only options,” Range said.
Range attended Pima Community College his freshman year and played 13 games in his first college season, but some problems began to arise away from the basketball court.
“Pima was fun, it was down the street from U of A (Arizona) and I got to stay in the student apartments, but I didn’t stay focused. I was doing things I really shouldn’t have been doing. I failed my classes that semester so I had to part ways with Pima, “said Range.
That is when Range transferred to GCC in summer 2012.
“I transferred because it was an opportunity to go back home and get my life back on track,” Range said.
Range reflected on his home being very important to him, and how his mom was always in support of him through his obstacles.
Coach Damin Lopez, now in his third season as head coach, knew what he was getting in Range when he transferred.
“Emery has great size for a point guard; he is versatile enough to play the two or three. He has great athletic ability and has excellent defensive instincts. I am looking forward to working with him and expect him to be very successful,” said Coach Lopez.
Range has worked with Coach Lopez for three years now, and knows more about the man than the coach.
“He’s a player’s coach, he understands the aspects of a player and he gets us because he’s been there before, “ Range said.
Damin Lopez played college basketball himself at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
Range was expected to start his GCC career in the 2012 season, but maybe all of the stress and struggle was just too much for his heart to handle. That summer, Range was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an enlarged heart. His condition kept him off the court for two years, and affected his ability to develop over those years. “It doesn’t limit me on the court at all now, but I just have to take my meds twice a day,” said Range.
Rangr discusses much it hurt that he couldn’t be on the court with his team, as his body recuperated. He entered this season with a chip on his shoulder, focusing on nothing but the process, something he’s been trying to do since he transferred to GCC.
“It’s about a process. It takes a process to come out strong, especially when you’ve been off the court for two years like me. You can’t always focus on the result, because it’s not always going to be what you expect. My results haven’t been particularly good this year in general, but working through a process will make me even better,” Range said.
So when it’s your final year of playing college ball at this level what do you do? Some student-athletes impress enough to garner a transfer to a four-year university where they could continue their athletic career. Throughout the years, the NCAA has made it harder for JuCo athletes to transfer; from upping the GPA requirement, to requiring a degree, to suspending most players a year upon arrival. Most transfer, but simply for academic purposes; after all, it is a very minute population that end up in Division I athletics, much less at the professional stage.
For Range, his future is in his hands, once again, he has D2 schools looking at him hard, and he’s eager to play basketball again. He was more reserved about his decision making, not wishing to name his top three.
“I’m planning on committing somewhere soon,” Range said.
For Range, his focus on the process; whether it be from playing all four years in high school, going through his obstacles at Pima, or his climb back up from his heart condition, will ultimately lead to his result, and we can’t wait to see it happen.