When the end comes

BOSSIER CITY, La. Remember the first time you did something you really loved? Maybe it was the first time you drove a car or read a whole book cover to cover or went fishing. What if someone told you that you couldnt do that thing you loved so much anymore?In real life, you can keep doing the things you love as long as you want. In sports, however, its a little different. In the world of competitive athletics, you can keep playing but only if you win. A little over a week ago in a cavernous arena in the heart of Cajun country, the powers that be in the NCAA told Bearkat senior hoopsters Jeremy Burkhalter and Senecca Wall that it was time to go. Sam Houston States 99-82 loss to McNeese State in the second round of the Southland Conference tournament marked the final time Wall and Burkhalter (both among the best to ever lace-up sneakers for SHSU) would perform as college athletes.Its obviously not the way I wanted to go out my last game, said a clearly upset Burkhalter amidst a crowd of journalists in post-game interview room. It really hurts, but its been nice to play for coach Marlin for three years and Sam Houston for four years…its been a great experience.Its disappointing to not get as far as we wanted to get, but I had fun this season, Wall said, but his pained look contradicted his words.Dont be mistaken; Burkhalter and Wall didnt go down without a fight. Wall scored an amazing 45 points against UTA just to keep the Bearkats season alive just three days before, and Burkhalter had a team-high 27 points in the finale.These are two guys that get 51 of our 82 points [against McNeese], Marlin said. We have no one else in double figures. It shows you weve got some work to do for next year.Wall and Burkhalter have some work to do as well. Adjusting to life after basketball will not be an easy thing. Going from something that is basically your job for 40-50 hours a week to something you only do for recreation isnt easy.Sure, maybe Burkhalter and Wall can make a team overseas or down in the Mexican semi-pro leagues. But that isnt certain and even if they do, it wont be the same as being the star on a college team, and basketball wont be a game anymore, it will be a job. But Burkhalter and Wall are prepared for the challenges ahead. Only minutes after he became a former college player, Burkhalter was realistic about the situation.I knew it had to happen sometime, he said.But that still doesnt make it any easier.

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