In the interminable minutes and minutes that were the last 12 seconds of Saturday night’s 76-70 Shocker win over No. 1-seed Gonzaga, fan John Markwell was on one knee in the stands, his head bowed in prayer.
Lynn Marshall was missing. She’d excused herself to the restroom about 15 minutes before and hadn’t returned.
The previous two hours had been agonizing – with the Shockers up, then way up, then down, then ganged up on by the officials (according to the very vocal fans) and by an arena full of Gonzaga supporters.
But the Shockers were back. They had the lead. It was so close.
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Those 12 seconds took an eternity.
Then it was over.
The Shockers won. The Shockers won?
Markwell was back on his feet, his face red, his voice gone.
“We shocked the world!” he screamed. “We shocked the world!”
The team was celebrating on the court. Markwell began uncontrollably weeping. Lynn Marshall reappeared, proudly clutching a broken drumstick she’d been given by a member of the pep band who’d pounded it so hard, it snapped.
Where had she been?
“I went up top,” she said, beaming. “When I went up there, we took the lead. So I stayed there.”
The pep band wasn’t done. The tuba fired up.
“You don’t want to go to war with the Shockers.”
The fans pointed at the court. A jubilant Gregg Marshall was in the middle of the floor, dancing and gyrating to the song. His players joined in. Marshall picked up his 13-year-old daughter, Maggie, and continued the on-court dance party. His next partner? A head-bobbing Eric Sexton, WSU’s athletic director.
“Don’t start no stuff, won’t be no stuff.”
“They’re fabulous,” Markwell said, still crying. “Best kids ever.”
Shocker player Ron Baker jumped onto the tables that had been press row. He hurdled the railing and flew into the arms of his sister, Audrey. His mom, Ranae, was next.
“I just believed all day they were going to do it,” Ranae said. “I knew it.”
Debbie Kennedy, director of the Wichita State alumni association, who couldn’t get enough people interested in Salt Lake City to fill a charter plane, started plotting her Sunday.
Before halftime even arrived, fans had started texting and calling her en masse, asking her to book a plane.
“I’ve gotta get the Shockers to L.A.,” she said.
The team will board a plane in Salt Lake City at noon on Sunday and will be back to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport by 3 p.m., Sexton said.
They’ll likely beat the fans who stayed all week in Salt Lake City back home, so they’re passing the torch to the Wichita fans.
Ted Ayres, WSU’s general counsel, issued an order.
“Tell everyone in Wichita to be there to greet this team.”