Rumble on Tobacco Road

I am perched like a hawk in my third tier seats waiting to swoop down on the Tarheel prey. This is my final home game as a student at North Carolina State University, but it is a game that means so much more.

My entire 21 years on this earth have been spent rooting for God's team (a.k.a. N.C. State) and pulling against the ever-present evil (a.k.a. UNC). I am a third generation member of the A(nybody) B(ut) C(arolina) association, and I take my duties seriously. So armed with face paint and red shirts, my fellow Reynolds rowdies and I are set to cheer the Wolfpack on to victory against UNC.

The first thing I notice when I arrive at the Entertainment and Sports Arena is how far my seats are from the court. After camping out in the cold on Friday night, with no beer to keep me warm, I am rewarded with nosebleed seats. At least I have the big board to watch from, but I will be cheering as loud as possible from wherever I sit.

Pregame starts with a touching tribute to seniors Brian Keeter, Archie Miller, and Anthony Grundy. The mood is enhanced by the sappy sound of "Memories" playing in the background. The game, however, is not a time for warm, fuzzy feelings, and this is demonstrated by the many "Lang is Ugly" cheers. In fact, the first half was completely ugly, and it had nothing to do with Kris Lang or Jason Capel. It was a roller coaster ride as my friends and I watched in horror when the Tarheels left the half ten points ahead. The Wolfpack kept making poor shots and didn't seem to care. With the fate of a 20-win season hanging in the balance, would evil triumph over good?

Fortunately, this year's team plays every game with a drive and intensity that I have not witnessed in my four years at NCSU. The Wolfpack started off the second half with seven unanswered points, narrowing UNC's lead to three points. The second half was poetry in motion, with a beauty that almost made me want to cry. Archie Miller sunk a perfect three pointer to give N.C. State the lead 51-48 with 16:40 left in the game.

Unfortunately UNC just wouldn't disappear, unlike their other games this season. My hopes started to drop when Lang sank a free throw to tie the score at 66. Perhaps this game would be different from every other game the Tarheels have played. Perhaps UNC was going to have a good game (it had to happen sometime). The Wolfpack, however, quickly killed any victory hopes UNC had by extending the lead 85-73 with 3:53 left in the second half. By this time, two UNC players had fouled out, and not even the rough play by Kris Lang could affect the Pack.

Cheers erupted from all sections in the ESA, and fans began shouting "We want Keeter!". Finally, Herb Sendek decided that was Keeter Time. The crowd went nuts, and Keeter's team tried to get him an open shot but Carolina denied him a good shot. Even though he had no points in his final game, Keeter still picked up a rebound. Then the buzzer sounded and the Wolfpack emerged with a 98-76 victory over UNC, their twentieth win of the season. N.C. State had finally swept UNC and now possesses a winning ACC record.

Before the crowd left, Coach Sendek had a few parting words for the fans. He thanked us all for standing by him and the team, and he thanked us for a wonderful season. Coach, I want to thank you for this season. Through doubt and skepticism, you have managed an amazing season, one that many fans have been waiting ten years for. This year, we may actually get to participate in the big dance. The N.C. State motto used to be "Wait until next year". Well that next year has finally arrived, and all I can say is wait until next year because by then we just might be unstoppable.


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