Rock The Hill: Winthrop back on top

Winthrop Eagles will be playing in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament as the 13th Seed.

ROCK HILL, SC - Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had one request this Sunday.

That fans "Rock The Hill."

"The city of Rock Hill, Winthrop University, and our student body," he said. "Brought it tonight."

So did his team.

After three-straight seasons of losing in the Big South Tournament final, Winthrop finally hoisted the championship trophy again.

"It's been raining in Rock Hill the last three championship days," said Aussie swingman Xavier Cooks, "and it's finally sunshine in Rock Hill and that feels great."

Poor Campbell never stood a chance in the 76-59 Winthrop win.

The drought is over -- seven years without a trip to March Madness

The Eagles return, and add their banner to the nine others hanging high at Winthrop Coliseum.

"Because of all those banners," Kelsey said, "there's a lot of pressure. We didn't talk about the pressure. I didn't, they didn't, but it was there."

On Sunday 5,100 fans rocked the hill, and then stormed the floor.

As a player and assistant, this will be Kelsey's twelfth trip to the big dance. But it's the first for his players.

"Big time. The biggest of big time," he said. "And I'm just so excited that these guys get to experience that."

Winthrop features Cooks, a lanky, do-it-all forward, and Keon Johnson, the little engine that could -- and does -- score at will.

Kelsey is a bundle of energy. He's a rising coaching star. He won't be at Winthrop long.

The Eagles are unselfish, and loaded with role players who are ready for their names to be called.

They're the Cinderella you're looking for. And they're right down the street.

Copyright 2017 WCNC


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