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Homecoming a Thriller

- View the Homecoming 2007 gallery.

Charles Wandera gives another crowd-pleasing dunk.

This past weekend, November 9 - 11, excitement flooded through campus as Berea College celebrated homecoming weekend. Not only were there parades, banquets, and concerts, but the men’s and women’s basketball teams played two spectacular games versus the University of Virginia Wise.

The Black Student Union crowned the winners of their 37th annual pageant on the evening of Friday, November 9. Junior and technology major Ricardo Fox, who hails from Louisville, KY, took home the “Congeniality Award.” Raynetta Wiggins from Birmingham, Ala, was crowned “Princess,” while Freshman Roman Gladney was named “Prince.” Jaimele Bettis, a freshman psychology major from Cincinnati, OH, was crowned BSU Pageant Queen. Her “King” was Christopher Perkins, a sophomore from Sunflower, Miss.

Despite the chilly temperatures, students and alumni alike huddled together the next morning, November 10, for the homecoming parade filled with student-made floats and superheroes such as Wonder-Woman and the Hulk. This year’s winner for best float was the Child and Family Studies (CFS) group with their “Family Tree.” Campus Activities Board (CAB) took second place, with the TEC Club rounding out the winners in third place.

At five o’clock that night, Berea students, alumni and citizens alike came out to watch the first of a double-header basketball program featuring the Mountaineers and the Virginia-Wise Cavaliers. The ladies game was first, and it showed off the immeasurable talent of the Lady Mountaineers team as a whole, as they pulled together a strong effort to defeat the Lady Cavaliers 92-71. Their defense was intense throughout, but especially in the first half as the Cavaliers were lucky to get the ball even across half court without it being stripped away. On the other side of the ball, the Lady Mountaineers also exhibited great offensive prowess--they already had complete control of the game at the half, leading 55-41. Junior guard Candy Walls pulled out an especially impressive performance, chalking up 14 points to be the team’s top scorer. Fans couldn’t have asked for a better game.

For game two, the men took the floor for a much closer game that felt like it could go either way for its entirety, which included not one, but two overtimes. It certainly didn’t take long for that intensity to kick in. Just four minutes in, 6’9” Berea forward Charles Wandera dunked the ball so forcefully that the play clock above the backboard leaned crooked for the remainder of the first half.

Wandera himself delivered a spectacular performance, pulling down rebound after rebound and contributing 26 points just by himself. He was certainly the showstopper, but the rest of the team turned in admirable stats as well. Sophomore guard Josh Mallory scored 10 points, including a couple of game-saving baskets late. Other memorable players were Senior Jordan Samuels Sophomore Mikah Turner scoring 16 and 13 points respectively.

Trailing at the half, Berea was down by only five with a score of 42-37. They eventually took their first lead of the game at about two and a half minutes into the second half, and from that point on it was a back and forth dogfight that climaxed at the two minute mark with Berea down by six. The Mountaineers rebounded yet again, and managed to tie the game at 81, sending it into overtime. Wandera provided another crowd-pleasing dunk and freshman guard Nick Britt drove inside with an important basket late. But the teams yet again ended up tied, sending the game into a second overtime, tied at 88. In this final period, the Mountaineers put up ten more points, but it wasn’t quite enough to stop the Cavaliers from stealing the game late, as Virginia-Wise won 102-98. It was a truly epic game that was befitting for such a thrilling homecoming weekend, and could be the start of a serious rivalry between the two teams.

There was more to be found Saturday night than just basketball, however. During the halftime of the men’s game, all of the homecoming King and Queen candidates were introduced on the court, as were first lady Nancy Shinn and President Shinn. After all were presented, Junior Hannah Gibson was crowned Homecoming Queen and Senior Shiblee Ratan Barua as King. Gibson is a child and family studies major, and is a member of the Baptist Campus Ministry and Invisible Children United. Barua is a physics and mathematics major and is a member of the African Student Association and the Black Student Union, among many others.

Homecoming weekend was rounded out Sunday afternoon by a cathartic and celebratory performance from the Black Music Ensemble (BME), which took place at Union Church and also served as their fall concert. The show started off strong with the choir pouring in from all sides, balcony and main level, as they filed in above the main stage, singing the opening number, “Enter His Gates.” Halfway through however, the stage was given over to Dr. Kathy Bullock, who directed a very fitting and uplifting performance by the Alumni Choir. Afterwards, awards were given to three soon-to-be graduating seniors, Demetrius Russell, Esther Dansby and Lakeya Chase. They each led the choir with three separate songs, getting their chance to sing as a soloist. Needless to say, none of them failed to deliver anything but stunning performances.

Finally, the whole choir joined together for a rendition of “It’s Not Over,” which also served as the concert’s name as well.
Reverend Gloria Johnson led the entire service, as well as the weekend, to a close with a prayer. Overall, it was an astounding and fun-filled homecoming weekend at Berea College, and can only serve as a template for what many future homecomings are to be in the future.

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