The LaGrange men's basketball team is heading to the NCAA Division III national tournament for the third straight year after receiving an at-large bid Monday as the 62-team field was announced.
The Panthers will head to Atlanta for the Emory Regional where they will take on Birmingham-Southern on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Regional host Emory and USA South rival Covenant meet in the other game.
"We were nervous and confident that we would be selected for the NCAA tournament," Coach Kendal Wallace said. "We scheduled the best teams we could find and I believe that worked in our favor.
"Also, the USA South conference was very strong this year which helped immensely. Our players have played their hearts out this season and deserve this opportunity."
The Panthers have compiled a 4-1 record against the other regional teams. They beat Emory 91-86 at the Maryville Classic on Nov. 29 and downed Birmingham-Southern 88-80 in overtime in Mariotti Gym on Dec. 2. The Panthers won both regular season meetings with Covenant, before losing in overtime in the USA South Tournament championship. This marks the first time since the 1996-97 season the conference has placed two teams in the NCAA tournament.
"Our bracket is going to be very tough," Wallace pointed out. "We have beaten each of the teams in our regional match up but we all know tournament time is when you get each team's best effort.
"We plan on giving our best effort once again and see where it takes us. Go Panthers!"
The Panthers join golf (2007-10) and softball (2007-09) as the only LaGrange teams to make at least three straight NCAA tournament appearances.