Basketball’s ‘Senior Night’ is one last hoorah at home


Alexis Caldwell, ’23, leaps over her defender getting off a tough shot.

There is a reason why Senior Night is a celebrated tradition throughout high school and collegiate sports. With all the hard work athletes put in during their tenures, days accumulate into months, and months into years of dedication and commitment. It seems only fit that the school thanks them for their blood, sweat and tears that have been devoted to the playing surface.
Allegheny will continue the tradition on Saturday, Feb. 18, as both the men’s and women’s basketball teams lace up for the last home game of the regular season versus Waynesburg. Although it should be a well-performed ceremony, it will not last long. Both Gators’ rosters share a unique attribution — they have only one senior on their rosters, the class of 2023’s Alexis Caldwell and Caden Hinckley.
Caldwell has been a three-year star for Allegheny, starting every game of her career except one. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic stripping the team’s season and her sophomore campaign, Caldwell has still amassed over 640 career points, and has a chance to hit the 500 marker in total boards. She leads by example, and has been a role model for the rest of the squad.
“I can look at her, and she believes in herself and her teammates,” said Head Coach Kelly Muffley. “It is really helpful when you come in and join a new program that you can have someone like Lex.”
Muffley was appointed as head coach in June of 2021, when Caldwell was going into her junior year. Although she missed her first two seasons, Muffley knew Caldwell would be an impact player, and she was right. The first edition of their saga together, Caldwell went to work and achieved an All-NCAC honorable mention after scoring 10.5 points and grabbing 8.4 rebounds per contest.
“I have never won an accolade like that before,” Caldwell said. “It felt pretty nice.”
Her teammates also enjoy Caldwell’s company. On the court, she brings the ability to make players laugh. Whether it is fighting for a rebound with another Gator thinking they are an opponent or being amazed at a shot that seemed almost impossible, Caldwell always knows how to keep a light-hearted spirit while also staying competitive.
Off the court, the girls hang out like a family. Oftentimes Caldwell gets unexpected knocks on the door from her teammates to hang out. Even if she is not home, it makes no difference. She has been greeted with players hanging out in the living room when she gets out of class, but Caldwell appreciates the close bond she has helped build.
Caldwell will be missed not only for her tenacity on the court, but also for her bright-spirited personality. Muffley described her as someone who knows how to have fun while also taking things seriously when necessary. She is also the team photographer — always taking group selfies to have memories down the line.
“On and off the floor she is taking people under her wing,” Muffley said. “She is someone that people can turn to. Being supportive is always something ‘mama bear’ can thrive off of.”
The men’s team has been blessed with the talent walking through the Gators tunnel over the past several years. Jordan Rawles, ’19, and Brian Roberts Jr., ’22, have made serious impacts at the guard position. But Hinckley has left a giant footprint at the center spot, on the standards of leading for the Blue and Gold.
“He is a very laid-back individual,” said Head Coach Bob Simmons. “That has really helped me in coaching as well — that looseness, that ‘hey we are focused and dialed in but we can have fun with this too.’ He has really taught us a way of approaching the game.”
After averaging over 10 points and five rebounds per game off the bench throughout the first 10 games of his freshman year, Hinckley became a regular starter — but that was just the beginning.
His junior season was his first in averaging a double-double with 15.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. This year he has continued the upward trend, averaging 17.2 points and 11.1 boards. He is fifth in scoring and first in rebounding throughout the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, and has earned Conference Player of the Week five times this season, and is a strong candidate for Conference Player of the Year.
“(Caden) is a special player,” Simmons said. “He is very talented, and has God-given ability. He works at his game, he is very coachable and he has a very high basketball IQ. He picks things up quick and understands things well.”
Hinckley has also impacted the record books for Allegheny thanks to his tall frame and strong physical attributes. Earlier this season on Jan. 21, he passed Garrett Dagget, ’89, for all-time blocked shots with 122. Just a few games later on Saturday, Feb. 4, Hinckley broke Daggett’s single-season block record which was held at 54. Hinckley will likely move into second place for all-time rebounds on Senior Night as he is three shy of passing Rawles at 773, and in the last contest he passed Gene Williams, ’89, for the number-two spot in single season rebounds at 265.
What makes Hinckley so lovable is the spirit he brings to practice and games. Above all the accolades and accomplishments he has achieved for the Gators, that is what Simmons will miss the most.
“He is always fun to be around, and he is always saying things where you look at him and (think), ‘Where did that come from?’” Simmons said. “The basketball part sure, you will miss his leadership and his shot blocking and his rebounding and his scoring. I would be lying if I told you we wouldn’t miss that. But in all honesty the thing I will miss the most is Caden Hinckley the person.”
Even after Saturday the season will not be over yet, though. Both teams have snagged a spot in the PAC playoff race, and are guaranteed at least one extra contest. Both seniors will look to make an impact and create some magic as they chase a PAC Championship.