On Friday, February 23rd, we played in our semi-final game against the University of Maine Farmington. There was an ecstatic atmosphere around campus the whole day because of the anticipation for tip off. Game time came around and I was relaxed as normal until the game started. In the first possession I got a huge block and heard the crowd erupt, at that moment I said to myself, “This energy is something that I’ve never experienced before from a crowd,” and I matched the intensity throughout the tournament.
As the game progressed we remained in control to win 74-59, punching our ticket to the first North Atlantic Conference championship in school history. After the game, I sat in the locker room for about 30 minutes alone to process what we had just done and the opportunity that lied ahead of us in the next 24 hours.
I left the locker room and watched the next game (Colby-Sawyer College vs. Husson University) to see who our opponent would be in the championship game. Colby-Sawyer went on to secure the victory, so I went back and watched the film from the two times that we had played them this year to see what I did well and what I needed to do differently.
When I tried to rest, I couldn’t. It was a weird feeling because in high school I played in multiple championship games and that never happened to me. I slept for only 3 to 4 hours and woke up at 8:00 AM and said to myself, “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that my team is victorious today; this moment is huge for me because I’ve never felt anything like this.”
It was as if we had no other choice but to win.
I was very anxious prior to game time, so I went to the gym 2 ½ hours before the game started to get shots up and calm my nerves. From the moment I walked into the gym there was a different feel to it, with members of the media and NCAA representatives in attendance.
An hour before the game started fans started to file in the gym. That’s when I realized that this was going to be a historic moment for New England College sports.
As we headed to the locker room for the final time to go over matchups and personnel, I started to calm down and reminded myself that I’ve played in and won three championship games prior to this in high school. I love high leverage moments and thrive on pressure situations which influenced my mentality.
When the game started the crowd was on another level. I could barely hear myself think to the point where I felt my ears ringing from the noise. From the start we were in control and there was an elevated sense of urgency among players and coaches; there was more attention to detail and focus.
In the second half, Colby-Sawyer cut our 15 point lead to 6 due to a 9-0 run. Coach Mason called a timeout and subbed me into the game with 14 minutes remaining. At this point all I’m thinking to myself is I must raise my play to another level if we want to win this game.
I scored 10 of my 18 points during that stretch and I got my first dunk at home with 3 minutes left to rip the hearts out of our opponents.
We went on to win by a comfortable margin, 72-56, and as time expired the crowd stormed the court to congratulate us. That was a surreal feeling because it brought everyone from our school together. It didn’t hit me that we just won our first NAC championship in school history until my teammates and I were cutting down the nets.
Personally, from the bottom of my heart I just wanted to thank everyone who supported us all year, helping us secure that home court advantage by being the best fans that anyone could ever ask for! Much Love!