THE BLACK & Gold magic carpet ride came up just a tad short.
West Liberty University's men's basketball team enjoyed a season the Ohio Valley will not soon forget. The Hilltoppers have enjoyed many a fine season under Coach Jim Crutchfield, but none equalled the one which just ended in Evansville, Ind.
West Liberty has become a major player on the national basketball stage. The Hilltoppers played for the ultimate against Central Missouri Saturday afternoon -- the national Division II championship.
As fate would have it, a passionate and valiant effort by the Hilltoppers came up just a few buckets short, falling to the Mules by an 84-77 count.
The loss will sting for a while. Getting so close to a national title and not being unable to seal the deal is obviously a tough pill to swallow.
Time will fade the pain and bring back into focus the glorious achievements by West Liberty this season -- and there were many.
First and foremost, it marked the first time West Liberty has played for the national hoop title.
The Hilltoppers captured the conference's regular-season crowns en route to a 31-win campaign. Crutchfield's crew also led the nation in scoring.
It was a special season on the hilltop. One that set the entire Ohio Valley sports fan base abuzz. A title-game setback does nothing to dampen that enthusiasm.
Crutchfield's teams have forged a regular entry into the Division II Elite Eight. We do not expect that will change as the Toppers' system cultivates continued success.
We salute West Liberty men's basketball season on a magnificent season. We also look forward to many more to come.