ANNAPOLIS, Md. — This is the moment Greg Summers and the rest of the senior class on the Navy men's basketball team have been working towards for the past four years: a shot to go dancing.
"This is something we’ve talked about since we were freshmen," said the Navy guard.
For the first time in 21 years the Midshipmen will play in the Patriot League title game. They are one win away from clinching their first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998.
"This opportunity to play in the championship game and to have the opportunity to go here, play at Colgate and go and play for a win and play in March Madness, that’s the opportunity of a lifetime," said Summers.
"We’re on the verge of making some history here in a few days and that will just be an incredible feat, to bring back a Patriot League Tournament championship," added senior guard John Carter Jr.
Second-seeded Navy tips off in the championship game for the first time since 2001 when they travel to top-seeded Colgate on Wednesday night. How they got there is the epitome of March. On Sunday the Mids defeated Boston 85-80 in overtime in the semifinal. The game featured 9 ties and 12 lead changes in the last 12 minutes of regulation and O.T.
"I’ve been involved in a lot of great games, whether it be Southern Conference, Big Ten, national TV audiences, but that was one of the best basketball games that I’ve experienced," said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis.
Now comes the title tilt with defending conference tournament champion Colgate. The Raiders beat the Mids by 19 in Annapolis in January and again by five in the regular season finale in Hamilton, N. Y.
In Navy’s favor for this one is they are close to full strength. Summers missed the first matchup and was limited in the second because of injury. He is now 100 percent. That's part of why DeChellis and his team could be cutting down some nets in the near future.
"We all can play better and I keep saying this to our guys, our best game is ahead of us," he said. "We’ve got another gear in us and I think our best game is ahead of us."
Start sharpening those scissors.