When Central Washington University's women's basketball team took the court Thursday, Jan. 9, at Sam Carver Gymnasium against Western Washington University, it was a home game of sorts for the Wildcats' Hannah Shine and Erika Locker.
Both Locker, a standout basketball player for Ferndale High School and later Whatcom Community College, and Shine, a star guard for Lynden High School, eyed this game since the beginning of the season because it offered a rarity: The chance to play in front of friends and family.
"You feel like you have home-court advantage," said Locker in a phone interview.
Shine added: "I played a lot of tournaments growing up here... and it's nice to come back and have my family and friends and people who supported me come out and watch."
And despite WWU pulling out the 71-64 win, Locker's trip back yielded a 28-minute, five-point game while Shine didn't see any game action.
Locker transferred from WCC to CWU last year where she has carved out a significant role off the bench for coach Shawn Nelson, playing in all 13 games this season for the Wildcats. She entered play Thursday averaging 22.2 minutes per game while posting 6.5 points per game. She's also third on the team with 11 steals, and is bringing down 3.3 rebounds per game.
"I am usually one of the first ones off the bench playing as a post," said Locker, noting that on offense she switches to playing more of a guard. "I come in and play tough defense, (and) they give me the green light on offense."
Locker has twice posted 10 points in a game this season, and her season-high in minutes was 39 against Western Oregon on Dec. 7.
Shine, a redshirt sophomore guard, has played less of a role this year for CWU than she did in years past.
Shine has played in seven of the Wildcats' 12 games, but has logged decent minutes off the bench in previous two games, including an eight-point effort against the University of Alaska-Fairbanks on Jan. 2. She also had pulled down three rebounds - two of which came on the offensive side of the ball - in that game.
"It's just coming off the bench and being a spark," Shine said, "knowing to make the big plays when they need to happen."
Shine is averaging 3.4 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game entering play Thursday.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.