The Springfield College men's basketball team is heading to the NCAA Division III semifinals for the first time in school history.
This team received an at-large bid to go to the NCAA tournament a few weeks ago and now they have a shot at a national championship.
Boarding a bus in Springfield on Wednesday, they left the birthplace of basketball to head to Salem, Virginia to compete on the highest stage.
Leading the charge are athletes that grew up right down the street.
“It’s pretty cool to grow up around here, and then to play in the birthplace of basketball, to play in a great program, a great group of guys, great coaching staff,” Andy McNulty, a senior from West Springfield, told us. “It's been awesome and I’m just enjoying the ride.”
McNulty hit a shot that led The Pride to be one of eight teams left in the tournament, a moment his teammates will never forget.
His teammate, Jake Ross, dropped 23 points in the next round to help send them to the semifinals.
Ross, a sophomore from Northampton said he feels proud to represent his community.
“I think we all take pride in where we are from, competing in this area and a lot of people respect what we are doing around here. It’s pretty cool to have the whole community support what you are doing,” Ross said.
This is the first time in program history that The Pride will head to the finals.
Coach Charlie Brock told us the significance of representing the birthplace of basketball is not lost on these players.
“Its historic. From Springfield’s standpoint and any team that goes to the final four for the first time it would be, but one could argue we have the most unique history in the game of the basketball, so its tremendous,” Brock said.
They're not just going to play; they are going to win.
“I think we know what we are capable of, and we feel like we belong here and that's a pretty cool feeling.
The team will face off against Nebraska Wesleyan at 7:30pm on Friday night in Salem, Virginia.
The winner will go to the national championship game on Saturday.
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