By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
Charles Page High School Class of 2011 graduate Nick Tate is a basketball National Champion after scoring 14 points for No.4 Mid-American Christian University in a 100-99 overtime nail-biter upset against No.1 Georgetown, Kentucky.
Things never came together for Tate's class in high school. The Sandites went 14-46 over the three years that Tate was at Charles Page, but that didn't stop the talented player from averaging 22.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game his senior year. He was the leading 6A scorer on the East side of the state and made the Frontier Valley All-Conference First Team, Tulsa All-Metro Second Team, and was an honorable mention on the Oklahoma All-State Team.
In April of 2011, Tate signed to play with Oklahoma Christian University and was one of the top outside shooters in the entire Heartland Conference. He played in 28 games as a true freshman, started two, and averaged 8.6 points per game. He had the second-best shooting percentage on the team at 48.6% and scored a season-high 22 points with 13 rebounds in a win over Crowley's Ridge. He recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a NAIA playoff loss to eventual National Champion Concordia, California.
His sophomore year he scored 13 points in a single period in a season-opening win over Central Bible College and went on to play in all 31 games and averaged 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds with a 41.9% three-point shooting percentage. He hit a game-winning 18-foot turnaround buzzer-beater jump shot in overtime for a win over Arkansas-Ft. Smith and scored a career-high 23 points in a loss at St. Mary's, Texas, then led his team with 17 points in a win over Spring Arbor, Michigan in the NCCAA Championship quarterfinals in his team's first year in the league. That year he played in his first National Championship Title game, but lost to Shorter, Georgia in overtime.
In his junior year he started 24 games and increased his scoring average to 14.4 points per game and was the second-leading scorer on the team. From there he transferred to Southwestern Oklahoma State University and redshirted due to NCAA Division II transfer rules. Instead of playing his senior year at SWOSU, he transferred again to Mid-American Christian University for his final year of eligibility.
This season he started 32 games and played in 35 for the Evangels and averaged 26 points and 6.7 rebounds per game to help his team post a 28-9 record. In January he was named the Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Week and in February he scored a career-high 33 against Southwestern Christian University.
The Evangels worked their way through the NAIA Division I Championship bracket this past week. Tate scored 10 points against Park and Biola, 3 in the quarterfinals against Cumberlands, 11 in the semis against Campbellsville, and 14 in the Championship game against Georgetown.
Georgetown led for the entire game, once by as much as 14, till MACU ran 19-5 to tie the game up at 60 with 13:11 left. From there Georgetown was fighting to keep minor leads as the two teams exchanged baskets for the next 11 minutes.
With 0:21 left, Chris Runnels hit a field goal to force overtime at 82-82. Georgetown hit four from the charity stripe to start the extra period, but MACU responded quickly, taking an 87-86 lead. The two teams exchanged the lead three more times before the Evangels finally won it. Trent Gilbert hit a three from the corner with less than five seconds to play for the Georgetown advantage, but Malcom Mann drove the distance and got off the buzzer-beater with a tenth-second left and the Evangels took home the first NAIA National Title in school history. Not only that, but it was the team's first ever National Title appearance in school history.
Tate was a valuable piece of the puzzle in his team's Championship game, grabbing 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block, in addition to his 14 points. He was also named NAIA Player of the Year. Not a half-bad senior year, if you ask me.