22-year-old coach — an ACU student — leads team to state high school basketball title
Michael Bacon, center, with two of Abilene Christian High School's…
UPDATE: ACU’s women (16) will face No. 1 seed Baylor March 23 in Waco, Texas.
Why? The West Texas university’s men and women just got invites to the Big Dance.
The 4,600-student university, associated with Churches of Christ, got automatic bids to the NCAA basketball men’s and women’s tournaments after winning the Southland Conference tournaments.
(Watch the men’s team’s reaction to the the NCAA tourney announcement at about 32:15)
It’s the ACU Wildcats’ first appearance in the Division 1 tournament — and it won’t be easy. The men’s team, seeded No. 15, plays those other Wildcats — the ones from the Southeastern Conference, No. 2-seeded Kentucky — in the first round of the tourney Thursday in Jacksonville, Fla.
“Abilene Christian shares the same name as Kentucky. Both are the Wildcats, but the similarities stop there,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports. “UK is going to be facing one of the true underdog stories of this NCAA Tournament in its first game.”
ACU’s women’s team, seeded No. 16, will face No. 1-seeded Baylor March 23 in Waco, Texas.
The men’s team beat New Orleans 77-60 Saturday in Katy, Texas, to win the Southland.
Less than 24 hours later, the Wildcats’ women’s team built up a 24-point lead over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the third quarter of their conference championship. Despite an incredible late rally by the Islanders, ACU held on to win 69-68.
That final score seems somewhat appropriate for a team whose coach’s name is Julie Goodenough.
“What a big deal this weekend for both ACU teams to be here and win the championship,” Goodenough told the Port Arthur News. “This is huge for the city of Abilene.”
The Abilene Reporter-News, meanwhile, had this to say about the men’s big win:
When Jaylen Franklin and Jaren Lewis signed to play basketball at Abilene Christian coming out of high school in 2015, they put their hopes and dreams on a program that was one of the worst in Division I.
In fact, the Wildcats won just six conference games those first two seasons, losing 20-plus games each season overall.
But Franklin and Lewis saw the bigger picture and believed in what ACU coach Joe Golding was building.
Now, they’re going to NCAA Tournament as the Southland Conference champions, after the Wildcats beat New Orleans 77-60 in the conference tournament championship Saturday evening at the Merrell Center.
“This whole journey, that’s what it’s been from the start — a lot of trust,” said Lewis, the tournament MVP, who scored a game-high 20 points against New Orleans. “I have a lot of faith in the coaching staff and each other.”
Read the full story.
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