Suffolk celebrates historic Virginia win
The University of Virginia Cavaliers went back-and-forth with the Texas Tech Red Raiders Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to pull out an 85-77 overtime win for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship title, the first in the Cavaliers’ history.
Virginia fans in Suffolk celebrated on Monday night and woke up on Tuesday morning with smiles on their faces. One of those fans was Hannah Mitchell, one of the cooks at O’doodleDoo’s Donuts on Bridge Road.
According to owner Reeva Luecke, Mitchell took it upon herself to cook up a batch of celebratory doughnuts early Tuesday morning, with orange and blue icing and “UVA” written on them proudly. The treats were a fast hit with all the local fans that were still riding high.
“They were very popular today, and they were buying them by the dozen,” Luecke said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “Everyone is excited.”
Tens of thousands of Virginia fans witnessed history and rocked U.S. Bank Stadium in a cacophony of cheers. Many of those now-cracked voices belong to Suffolk’s own long-time Cavaliers.
“It’s something that people dream of that never happens, and we were there to watch it happen,” said Billy Chorey Sr. of Suffolk’s Chorey and Associates Realty Ltd.
Chorey flew out to Minneapolis early Saturday morning to see the Final Four matchups and then the Monday night championship game. He flew out with retired Suffolk General District Court Judge Jim Moore and they rode to the stadium with Darlene and Thad Keyt, of Suffolk, and their son, Willie, 20, a second-year UVA student.
The Keyt family quickly made plans to go to the Final Four after the Cavaliers beat Purdue in their Elite Eight matchup on March 30, according to Darlene Keyt. It was the first time UVA had reached the Final Four in more than 30 years.
“We were really fortunate that we could all go together,” Keyt said. “It was a great experience.”
Willie was in the student section for Monday’s championship game, jumping and hollering with hundreds of others in orange and blue. It was a rollercoaster for the Virginia students as they kept cheering for Head Coach Tony Bennett’s squad to keep up the pressure.
Their screams reached a fever pitch when Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter made the three-pointer that tied the score near the end of regulation to set up their overtime victory.
“We only had like 600 (Virginia) students there (in the student section), but it was as much noise as we could make,” Willie said. “It was just wild.”
Virginia’s performance in this year’s NCAA tournament was also a wild turnaround after their historic loss to University of Maryland Baltimore County in the first round of last year’s tournament, which was the first time that a top seed lost to a 16 seed in the history of the tournament.
Chorey gave credit to the players’ tremendous determination and Bennett’s stellar coaching for this turnaround.
“From last year’s agony to this year’s ecstasy was something that Bennett said could be done, and doggone if it wasn’t done,” Chorey said.
He said it was a “deafening” experience in the packed stadium of fans that saw a relentless match with a Virginia lead that changed from moment to moment. Virginia led 32-29 at halftime and led in field-goal percentage for the game, 45.8 percent to 42.9 percent.
“It was like a chess match. Virginia would go up by like 10 points and we felt like they were in good shape, then Texas Tech would make three threes and we’d only be up by one. It was just back and forth like that all night,” Chorey said.
The Chorey family is rich with UVA memories. Billy Chorey Sr. graduated from UVA in 1973 and continues to serve as a liaison for the annual reunions of his fellow Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers.
Chorey’s brother and his brother’s two children attended UVA, along with his own two children.
“The Chorey family has been tied to this school for years and years,” he said. “It’s gone down to at least two generations — hopefully three.”
He and Moore saw UVA make history on Monday night in a stadium crowd that had famous Cavalier faces from seasons both recent and decades ago.
At the stadium on Monday night were the likes of Ralph Sampson, the 1979 to 1983 Virginia center, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and three-time College Player of the Year, as well Malcom Brogdon, who played for Bennett from 2011 to 2016 and who was named both ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year during his senior year at Virginia — the first player to win both awards in the same season.
It was a whirlwind experience for Chorey to travel to Minneapolis for the Final Four and NCCA Championship — one that he will never forget.
“I have no sleep, I have no voice and I have no money, but it was worth every penny,” he said.