Fans welcome team home after Gardner-Webb clinches historic trip to NCAA tournament

Gardner-Webb wins Big South, makes NCAA Tournament for first time ever

BOILING SPRINGS, NC (WBTV) - A historic moment for the Gardner-Webb men’s basketball team, now that they’re going to the NCAA tournament for the first time ever.

The team defeated Radford 76-65 to win the Big South Championship. DJ Laster was the team’s leading scorer with 32 points.

Even though many students are away on spring break, dozens of people showed up at the school to welcome home the team of champions. Boiling Springs has boiled over with excitement as the bulldogs get ready for the big dance.

Senior forward DJ Laster said, he and the rest of the team have been preparing for this exact moment since August by training relentlessly. He also said he’s soaking in the special moment, but he wants people to know that he’s ready to go to battle and hopefully break some brackets.

“Lets make our run in the dance. We don’t want to win just one game, we want to go all the way to the final four if we can,” said Laster.

The fans really did show up and show out when it comes to team spirit. According to Tim Craft, the head coach – with all the love his team was shown, there was no better way to start off March Madness.

Even with Spring Break in progress and few students in town, there was no dampening of excitement on Monday. “It is just amazing,” said one woman of the news about the team.

At Campus Pizzeria across the street from the school, booths and tables were empty but that will be change next week. “Gonna be super crowded in here,” said Sophia Lignos. She says all the big screen TVs will be tuned to the game and it could get loud. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Head basketball coach Tim Craft says the experience has been “Surreal.” Getting into the tournament, he said was something he had always hoped for. “Just thankful and blessed to get this opportunity.”

Gardner-Webb heading to the big dance

He will keep the team focused on the task ahead and believes his players are ready. “We won 23 games this year so far,” and added, “They are playing their best basketball of the season right now.”

“It feels great just to have everybody here. It shows you just how much it means to everybody here at Gardner Webb,” said Craft.

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