SALEM, Va. — After being showered with confetti and holding the program’s first-ever national championship trophy in his arms, Babson all-American Joey Flannery had some advice for the players in the Augustana locker room.
Hang in there, kids.
After Flannery led a senior-dominated Babson team to a 79-78 win over the Vikings in the NCAA Division III national title game Saturday, he recalled being on the losing end of a 68-48 game against Augustana in the national semifinals two years ago.
“It wasn’t a lot of fun that day,’’ Flannery said. “We were the young team then, like they are now. That game taught us a lot that helped us here this week.
“This time around, we were all business. We came here to win two games, something we didn’t get done two years ago. If those guys compete like we do, and from what they showed us I think that is probably the case, they’ll learn from it.’’
Beavers coach Stephen Brennan suspects that will be the case as well.
“That was a good young basketball team we played. They’ll be back,’’ Brennan said. “My guys, this was a culmination season for them. This was what we’ve been building toward. I think we prepared better, handled things better this time and it made a difference.’’
Vikings coach Grey Giovanine took time during his postgame comments to praise the leadership of his team’s veterans and the contributions Augustana received from the younger players on its roster.
“Save us a seat. You might see this group back here again,’’ Giovanine said.
Junior guard Dylan Sortillo said offseason work is where future success will begin.
“We didn’t want it to end this way. We wanted to send our seniors off with a win. They deserved that, which makes it tough right now,’’ Sortillo said. “They were the ones who got it started last summer.’’
Nolan Ebel, a sophomore guard, called senior Jacob Johnston the team’s most valuable player.
“He’s meant the world to us and we’re going to miss him, but he taught us how to work and when we get back here, it will be because of what we learned from him,’’ Ebel said.
Sortillo expects the lessons learned to only help in the future.
“Well take a week off, relax and reflect a bit, and then it will be time to get back to work,’’ Sortillo said. “We have to find a way to get two points better and if I know this group, we’ll put in the work it takes to make that happen. That’s what we’re all about.’’