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Maldonado and Esary leading Argos in fifth and final season

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Posted at 6:05 PM, Jan 26, 2022

GREAT FALLS — The University of Providence women’s basketball team is on a hot streak, winning 11 straight games with five of them against ranked opponents, putting the now No. 16 Argos back in the top 20 teams in the nation.

Fifth-year seniors and All-Americans Emilee Maldonado and Parker Esary have been shouldering the load during their winning stretch with Maldonado earning back-to-back Frontier Conference Player of the Week awards, averaging 18.1 points per game in conference. Meanwhile Esary is averaging 15.4 points per game in conference on 58% shooting from the field.

“Having Emilee and I obviously doing our fifth years along with Kerstyn [Pimperton] and Elly [Teske], we have a lot of girls who we have played with for three years, four years so I think we all get along really well so it’s created that bond,” Esary said.

Maldonado and Esary, like many seniors last year, had the chance to come back for a fifth year due to COVID-19. Many seniors across the country opted to graduate and move on past basketball, but for them, there was unfinished business after a National Tournament appearance in the 2020-21 season.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, I was still undecided and then towards the end, I wasn’t ready to let it go and so now with this season that we’ve been having, it’s been nice,” Maldonado explained.

“We definitely talked about it, and especially with the COVID-19 year kind of being taken away from us, I kind of felt there was unfinished business and I just wasn’t done yet.”

But that’s not all folks. Throughout this season, the pair continue to surpass milestone after milestone.

Both are close to surpassing 2,000 career points in the same career span which if done, will be virtually unheard of in the NAIA or NCAA. Maldonado needs 60 points to reach that milestone while Esary needs just 20.

On top of that, Esary will more than likely end up a five-time all-American while Maldonado, a four-time All-American.

“Seeing both of our names up there, we came in together starting as freshman and now finishing it with a fifth year, I just think that was the biggest opportunity we could’ve been given and we were able to achieve a lot,” Maldonado said.

Despite the duo’s success, it’s been a matter of trust that has propelled the team forward with the team getting much needed contributions from role players like sophomore Brooklyn Harn and junior Reed Hazard, averaging in double-digit points this season for the Argos, which allowed the Argos to be holistically competitive through injuries and COVID-19 protocols.

“You know it’s huge for us. Everyone’s been playing their role and with that comes along our season and I think playing for each other has made an impact for us,” Maldonado added.

The Lady Argos are back at home Thursday, Jan. 26 for when they square off against Montana Tech (11-12, 2-6).