SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
TUSKEGEE, Ala. – The Golden Tigers men’s basketball team returned home on March 19 to a big welcome from Tuskegee University. A crowd of fans was waiting as the bus carrying Tuskegee’s first NCAA Division II South Region champion team arrived in front of Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Arena.
The Golden Tigers defeated the Delta State Statesmen, 80-59, for the win on March 18 in Lakeland. It is the first South Region championship victory in the history of Tuskegee’s program. Tuskegee has made three other appearances in the NCAA II playoffs, in 1959, 1979, and 2010. The closest that the Golden Tigers have come is third in South Region play in 1979.
The celebration continued inside and featured the Marching Crimson Pipers band, cheerleaders, and Golden Essence dance team. Also, Acting Tuskegee University President Dr. Matthew Jenkins presented all the players and coaches with certificates of appreciation.
Later, the team showed off its newest trophy to the crowd and asked for everyone’s support as they prepared to face competition in the Elite 8 for the first time.
“This team is on a mission and that mission is to be the last team standing,” said Tuskegee basketball coach, Leon Douglas.
Tuskegee was to face the Metropolitan State University Roadrunners (30-1) of Denver, Colo., winner of the NCAA II South Central Region, on March 26.
Founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee University is home to about 3,000 students from the U.S. and 30 foreign countries.