Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 5 | April 2022

4 Inside Hokie Sports One of the most improbable, inspiring runs in the prestigious history of the ACC Tournament ended with maroon and orange confetti falling to the floor of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. For the first time ever, the Virginia Tech Hokies are the champions of the ACC. Months before they kick-started a historic run to the ACC final, the Hokies sat in the depths of the league with a 2-7 conference record on Jan. 26. The Miami Hurricanes silenced the crowd at Cassell with a backbreaking, half-court buzzer beater to hand Tech its third straight loss. To the Hokies credit, the team did not crumble. Mike Young’s crew sparked one of the largest turnarounds in ACC history, finishing the regular season on a 9-2 stretch, which solidified them as a seven seed in the league tournament. “We were talking about it in those moments, it was a dark place,” point guard Storm Murphy said of the team’s slow start in the regular season. “But the resilience of this team and the belief never wavered… when it really got real, we pushed through and continued to grind and have fun, and now here we are.” The fun certainly erupted when the Hokies pulled off their first win in the tournament. Down two in overtime with under five seconds to play, Darius Maddox traversed the court and drilled a 3 at the buzzer to keep the Hokies’ postseason hopes alive. Maddox’s heroic 3-pointer lifted Tech into the quarterfinals against Notre Dame, where the Hokies’ momentum continued into a 87-80 triumph over the Irish. Keve Aluma’s 20-point performance and Justyn Mutts’ fourth doubledouble of the year lifted the Hokies into the semifinal for a chance to play North Carolina for the third time in 2022. Despite the Tar Heels getting the better of the first two matchups, the Hokies had different plans for round three in Brooklyn. Maddox’s electric shooting off of the bench culminated in a career-high 20 points. Tech’s defense held No. 25 UNC to a 3-for-26 showing from beyond the arc, propelling them to a 72-59 victory and a trip to the first ACC final in program history versus top-seeded Duke. Not only was a conference title on the team’s horizon, but the urgent need to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. “I think just because we’re desperate doesn’t mean we’re not confident,” Keve Aluma said after the win over North Carolina. “We just know we’ve got to win.” The crescendo of the 2022 ACC Tournament had finally arrived. The Hokies, who fought through the gauntlet of the opening three games, were now pitted against the ACC regular-season champions, the No. 7 Blue Devils. The Hokies faced Duke in December in Durham and fell 76-65. Like the previous night against North Carolina, Tech’s shooting rewrote the wrongs of the regular season contest. Hunter Cattoor led the charge beyond the arc for the Hokies. “I was going through a rough shooting slump, and every time in practice, every time in the games, my teammates would tell me I’m the best shooter in the gym,” Cattoor shared on his outlook going into the final. “I dreamed of moments like this, and it happened, so I’m grateful. The junior from Orlando went absolutely unconscious from3-point land. Cattoor nailed his first six trey attempts without missing and finished with a career-high 31 points. Aluma added an impressive 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. The Hokies shot 50% from the field and jumped up by as much as 18 over the Blue Devils in the second half, finalizing the title run with an 82-67 victory, the largest win over Duke in the 100-year history of the matchup. “It means a lot just for the history of Virginia Tech,” Cattoor said, who was named MVP of the tournament. “Coach Young mentioned before we’re not doing it just for our team here in that locker room. We were doing it for all the players before and everyone that came through Virginia Tech before.” The Hokies cut down the nets as the first seven-seed to ever win the ACC Tournament. Even as the excitement washed over the team and Virginia Tech faithful crowded into the lower level of the Barclays Center, Mike Young balanced his elation with the anticipation of the next challenge. “It’s significant, but we’re going to play in the NCAA Tournament next week,” said Young, whose program is going to the big dance for the second consecutive year. “We’re going to put a lot of time and effort into our next opponent, and there will be a time when we’ll look back on it. This is very significant for our program, for our coaching staff. A lot of fun.” INSPIRED RUN in Brooklyn lifts VIRGINIA TECH to first-ever ACC TOURNAMENT TITLE By Bailey Angle This is a special thing for Blacksburg; for southwest Virginia where I’m from, where I grew up; for the state of Virginia; for our unbelievable Hokie fan base. They’ll always remember this, this team, and what they’ve accomplished. Tech head coach Mike Young Hokies knocked off Clemson, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Duke en route to league tournament championship