Wilson Celebrates Barton's Hoops Title
Mar 26, 2007
Wilson, N.C. — Hundreds of people gathered on the Barton College campus Monday evening to honor the school's NCAA Division II national championship basketball team.
Barton topped Winona (Minn.) State 77-75 Saturday on a buzzer-beating layup by senior guard Anthony Atkinson following a steal at midcourt. Atkinson poured in 10 points with less than 40 seconds left in the game to lead Barton back from a 7-point deficit.
"It's just an amazing feeling/ It's something you hope for all your life," Barton player David King said Monday before the celebration. "Being a part of something like this is just incredible."
"I don't think I can put into words what it feels like. These past two, three days have been incredible," player Brian Leggett said. "If I can put into words what it feels like to be national champions, the NCAA can come take our trophy back."
The Bulldogs have become a national sensation, doing interviews for ESPN and other national media outlets. The school has fewer than 1,000 students, but with no surprise teams in the final rounds of the NCAA Division I tournament, Barton became the Cinderella story that captured many imaginations.
Atkinson scored a 3-pointer at the buzzer to help the Bulldogs beat Grand Valley (Mich.) State and earn a trip to the Division II Final Four. He then scored a free throw with 1.5 seconds left against Cal State San Bernardino to put the team in the championship.
"I'm just taking all as it comes, and right now, I'm probably the happiest man in the world," Atkinson said. "It's a storybook ending. You can't write nothing better; you can't produce nothing better."
The Wilson native is now the hometown hero -- he even proposed to his girlfriend on the court during halftime of the last regular season game. But his parents and teammates said that wouldn't change who he is.
"He doesn't think of himself as a superstar. He'll go on ESPN, (and) he's going to be the same Anthony Atkinson," King said.
"He never lets any of it get to him. He's just unfazed by all of it. He just goes out and plays," Leggett said.
Atkinson graduated from Greenfield School, a small, private K-12 school in Wilson. He returns regularly to help with practice and mentor younger students, and he attends church regularly with his mother and father.
"We always treat people how you want to be treated, and I think that's where all of this has come from," said his mother, Vivian Atkinson.
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Most Recent Comments
Still a two hour celebration on by Barton on Barton Campus is not a city wide celebration. And a line up of people along a major highway is not a PARADE. They are held downtown, with bands and the guys on floats (cars, trucks, etc.) and the cheerleaders etc. The "parade" that they had into town was the welcome home bandwagon southern style. Not a parade, not a city wide celebration. The Mayor and city officials should be ashamed of them selves. And Sidekick is right, even the Gov. should have done something (being from Nash County and all). These boys are hometown heros and they lived the Cinderella story. Give them their due.
The citizens of Wilson and Wilson County did welcome our team home. We lined the road along Highway 264 for 10 miles...all the way into town..... with signs and balloons and cheered for our team as they arrived home. Our Police and Sheriff's Departments stopped traffic along this major highway the entire route so that the team could cruise into town as heores. It was really a great experience to see the team members standing in the bus, taking pictures and being given a hero's welcome by their home town. And we heard about this and the celebration held yesterday via a phone tree message from our Mayor to all residents on Sunday afternoon asking for our support of our team and Barton College. I was elated to see the wide turn out by the citizens of Wilson and WIlson County in support of this team and their great accomplishment. Wilson IS proud of Barton College.
Mayor of Wilson? Where's the governor or the legislature?? Isn't Wilson in the state of North Carolina? They don't draw straws to see who the NATIONAL Champion is!! It is a tremendous accomplishment. Maybe they should've waited til next year during the election season.
Bruce Rose supported this team? Where is the city wide celebrations, where is the parade, where is the city? The only celebrations so far was on Barton's campus. No parade downtown, no big city wide celebrations. Just what Barton planned and the Mayor saying that yesterday was Barton Day. Come on Wilson, where's the pride. Give these guys a real city wide celbration.
Just to inform you the Mayor Rose was at many of the games, so he did have interest in the team. I admit he did not sound real rehearsed at the celebration, but some folks are just not good at speechs, even public officials. I live in the county, so he is not my mayor and I don't even know him personally, but he is a down to earth guy wo supported the team even before they made it big time.