I will not try to capture what Saturday night’s NCAA D-III game at Pepin between the Panthers and Bridgewater was like other than to say that it might have been one of the single greatest (yet excruciatingly painful) games I have witnessed, in any sport. This coming from a lifelong sports fan.
The outcome, a last-second (literally) 78-76 loss by Middlebury, was a disappointment in that the Panthers will not continue their season. But the game, and indeed the entire season, was quite remarkable, and one could not help but feel great pride in watching the Middlebury team play with great intensity and sportsmanship.
The comments at the end of the heartbreaking loss by team captain Ben Rudin, who had an outstanding game, season, and career, reflected an unusual maturity for a 22-year-old whose storied season had just ended, and ended in such dramatic fashion. Coach Jeff Brown’s comments reflected the kind of class that has become the standard for Middlebury coaches and the ideals and quality of our athletics program led by athletic director Erin Quinn—something we should never take for granted.
On behalf of so many, I want to thank Jeff and the Panther basketball team for the best season in the program’s history and, even more, for showing such class in both victory and defeat.