Last night, four Gamecocks played in Pete Mathews Coliseum for the final time in their careers at Jacksonville State. Senior night led to a popular turnout as fans came out to not only watch the final home game of the season, but to see Ronnie Boggs, Tarvin Gaines, Mason Leggett, and Rinaldo Mafra leave it all on the court as the core group of a team that has the Gamecock basketball program on the rise.
Ronnie Boggs, a native of Kansas City, MO., turned out to be one of the top defenders for the Gamecocks this season with his team leading 142 rebounds (92 defensive) close to six a game. Boggs also swiped a team high in steals on his way to currently being third in scoring, with 276 points going into the SEMO game, averaging 11 points per game. His stamina has been proven as he averages playing 34 minutes and has taken part in all 26 games.
Tarvin Gaines of West Memphis, AR. has carried the torch for the Gamecocks this season. His 16 points per game average leads the team. Gaines also leads with a 82 percent shooting from the free throw line, and shoots 47 percent from the floor overall. He’s second on the team in total rebound behind only Boggs.
Zachary, Louisiana’s Mason Leggett won’t blow up the box score or the scoreboard, but his significance can’t be overstated. Leggett brings key leadership and is sufficient in every aspect of the game. He averages just three points a game, usually off the bench, but tossed in 12 last month at home in a one-point upset over conference power Murray State.
Rinaldo Mafra comes from Recife, Brazil. He’s been a key player off the bench for the Gamecocks, manning the inside game against the big men down low. Mafra doesn’t lead in any categories, but is consistent across the stat sheet between rebounding and playing defense to scoring some on the offensive side. He usually gets his money’s worth in games often getting into foul trouble, but you might as well use them, they restart the following game.
Coach James Green loses a strong core group after this season, but a group that put the basketball program back on track, most notably having the first winning season since 2005-06. As Boggs, Gaines, Leggett, and Mafra walked off the floor for the final time, they left the program in a better place than they inherited it.
The four seniors, along with the rest of the Gamecocks, have two final games on the road this season, first this Saturday in North Carolina for the bracketbusters game, and then at Belmont on March 2, which will air on ESPNU.