Barton Basketball Team Returns Home as Div. II Victors
Posted March 25, 2007 6:12 p.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2007 6:54 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — This year's Cinderella story didn't come on the men's road to the Final Four. It's the tale of a tiny school from Wilson, and the star player's last-second shot that earned Barton College the men's Division II title.
The Barton Bulldogs flew in to Raleigh-Durham International Airport early Sunday evening, where the squad dubbed “the little team that could” got a big welcome home as the new Division II men's basketball champions.
“It's my senior year, it's my hometown, so I'm just elated with joy right now,” said Barton guard Anthony Atkinson.
Atkinson earned those feelings of jubilation. In the final seconds of the championship game, he saved the day for his team.
“I was at half court with about 2.3 seconds (left), so I figured, why not go for it?” Atkinson said.
“We weren't going to go down without a fight,” said Barton junior Brian Leggett. “It's been the story of our season, just coming from behind. It's probably one of the greatest comebacks in Barton history, in basketball history, period.”
It’s earned respect for a school of about 1,100 students.
“It feels good,” said student Antonia Wortham. “It feels real good that they're getting love coming from the small town of Wilson.”
“There are people from all over the country calling us and saying, ‘Where's Barton? What's Barton?’” said Barton College president Norval Kneten. “They're excited about us and interested in us.”
“There are good things that can happen in small places,” Atkinson said. “A lot of people look over small places like Wilson County.”