Ogden • As Weber State completed a perfect conference home record Saturday, at halftime senior guard Scott Bamforth was recognized as one of the top 50 players to ever don the Wildcat purple.
A big honor, indeed.
And the 6-foot-2 guard finished the season in style, with 18 points and a game-clinching 3-pointer with less than a minute to play. The game before, Bamforth secured his first-ever collegiate double-double, including a career-high 12 rebounds as WSU won its 11th consecutive game to enter Thursday's Big Sky Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed against No. 7 Northern Arizona.
Yet, anyone who witnessed Bamforth's performance at the conclusion of 2012 would have never guessed at the heights he gained this season. By the end of 2012, Bamforth was a nonfactor. Weber State coach Randy Rahe left Bamforth home when the Wildcats traveled to Loyola Marymount in the second game of the CIT Tournament, a game lost in overtime.
"Scotty has grown up so much this year," Rahe said. "His maturity level has gone through the roof. He invested into his team. He took everything away from himself and put his whole energy into the team."
Bamforth's start to last season would have challenged anyone. Before the first exhibition game, his wife Kendra, pregnant with son Kingzton, was diagnosed with preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure and significant amounts of protein in the urine. She needed to give birth four weeks early. Afterward, Kingzton needed a ventilator to breath.
Both are healthy today.
Still, Bamforth, fresh off an all-conference first-team performance as a sophomore, started well, scoring 28 points in a season-opening game against Utah State. Yet, there were warning signs of what was to come, including a game where he didn't take a single shot, intentionally passing up scoring chances.
Bamforth began this season as a questionmark and finished with another first-team selection.
"By far this has been the best year of my life, of my career," Bamforth said. "I remember sitting in the locker room [after last year's championship loss at Montana] thinking of [teammate Damian Lillard], tears in my eyes. I didn't help him enough to get it done. This year, I still feel it, but now I want to feel the joy."
Rahe entered this season worried about the loss of leadership, his team's toughness and togetherness.
"It scared the hell out me," he said.
Bamforth emerged as a leader.
"Last year, we were a close-knit group, but nothing like this year," Bamforth said. "I've never been apart of anything like this any time in my life. There's real love in the locker room. We feel like we're going to get the job done. I can imagine how it's going to feel."
Northern Arizona vs. Weber State
O Thursday, 3 p.m.
TV • None
Radio • 1280 Am
Records • NAU 11-20, 8-12; WSU 24-5, 18-2
Series history • WSU leads 71-26
Last meeting • WSU, 80-78, ot (March 2)
Big Sky Tournament
At Dahlberg Arena, Missoula, Mont.
Thursday (First Round)
3 p.m. • No. 7 No. Arizona vs. No. 2 Weber State
5:30 p.m. • No. 6 Southern Utah vs. No. 3 North Dakota
8 p.m. • No. 5 Northern Colorado vs. No. 4 Montana State
5:30 p.m. • Highest remaining seed vs. 2nd highest remaining seed
8 p.m. • Lowest remaining seed vs. No. 1 Montana
7 p.m. • ESPNU