By Danny Priest
When the final buzzer sounded on Saturday night in Blake Arena, it felt as though all the air had been sucked out of the building.
The horn indicated the end of the road for an incredible team, and the end of the career for two of the greatest to ever put on THE JERSEY in Jake Ross and Heath Post.
Amidst the pain and heartbreak of losing a tournament game on a last second shot, Ross did something I urge you to pay attention to and consider.
In those first moments after losing his season and his career, he didn’t put his head down. He didn’t drop to the floor in sorrow, he didn’t pull his jersey off and cover his face.
Instead, he turned to the bleachers that were filled to the brim with students and he applauded them.
It was a small thing to do, in fact not many people probably noticed it.
Yet in that moment of anguish, he took the time to say thanks and show respect.
That small moment is a bigger indication of what this team was about all season long. A classy and respectful group that battled until the bitter end.
There was never going to be an easy way for this ride to come to an end unless it was celebrating a national championship down in Atlanta.
That’s the harsh reality of sports, and come March, 63 teams go home disappointed while one gets to celebrate.
Still, wins and losses get forgotten. The legacy that this group has built will live forever, and that’s what they deserve to be remembered by.
Start with Ross and fellow senior Heath Post. The duo became the first pair in the history of Springfield College basketball to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds.
They made history together. Ross made a ton of other history too.
All-time leading scorer in program history? Check.
Single-game scoring record? Check.
The first player EVER in the history of NCAA Division III basketball to score 2,500 or more career points and also grab 1,000 rebounds? Check.
Ross and Post both had outstanding careers, and the whole way they celebrated one another’s success. They join Trey Witter and Jake Jacobson in a senior class who will be defined by their class, respect and talents on the court.
There was so much to enjoy about watching this group grow and evolve together.
Sophomores Daryl Costa and Collin Lindsay, as well as junior Deonte Sandifer, took huge strides on the court this year and stepped into their expanded roles when called upon.
First-year guys such as Noah Cummings and Robert Baum showed tons of promise for the future.
The Pride even carried a walk-on junior in Harper Niven who had a significant impact on the team. Walk-on juniors don’t happen every day, in fact they probably almost never happen. The fact that his role became what it was is a testament to that coaching staff.
From top to bottom, this group held a special and rare bond. Guys didn’t worry about minutes or individual marks, they cared about wins and losses.
You’d be hard pressed to find a team anywhere else this talented, but with such little ego from the top guys all the way down to the end of the bench.
At the end of the day, the success and well being of the team outweighed any individual achievements. That’s a difficult thing to cultivate for a team, but Springfield did it in stride.
It’s tough to see this come to an end. As the program gets ready to turn onto a new chapter, don’t remember this group for their final loss on Saturday.
Remember them for the memories they provided on the court, the records they crushed along the way, and love they shared for each other and the fans who supported them all year long.
This group was a class act, and their legacy will live on in Springfield College men’s basketball history, forever.
To the 2019-2020 Springfield College men’s basketball players, coaches, and program as a whole – thank you. Your impact goes far beyond wins and losses.
Featured photo courtesy Joe Arruda