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La Roche college turns tragedy into a winning tribute

Read this opening paragraph. It has all the makings of a depressing story.

Scott Lang was 41 years old when he died last month. He was not married. He had no children. He spent almost all of his adult life as the basketball coach at La Roche College, a tiny Division III school in the north hills just above Pittsburgh. He had an apartment and eventually a house but he might as well have lived in his office at the Kerr Fitness and Sports Center, the one he kept tidy with each picture perfectly lined on the wall and every file in order on his desk

Except Scott Lang’s players had other ideas. They’ve turned their coach’s death into something uplifting thanks to their dedication and performance to the game in which he was teaching them.

Since Lang died, his Redhawks have won nine straight games, are 16-1 overall, is in first place in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference and is ranked in the D-III top 25 for the first time. Those details would normally be enough for Hollywood to scoop up the story and roll with it.

But Les Carpenter did Hollywood one better. He turned it into a moving tribute to a coach and his team. Here’s an excerpt:

Suddenly there is talk about the NCAA’s Division III tournament, about going all the places that Lang spent all those nights and all those hours dreaming of someday being able to take La Roche. Anything seems possible. And it is all very much still him

The players say they are sure Lang is watching. He wouldn’t miss a year like this. The four men who have taken over the coaching all have other obligations; they have families and full-time jobs. They can’t dedicate half a day let alone an entire life to La Roche. They say the players are winning themselves, that the lessons from Lang were so deep that the team has simply absorbed them.

“We’re not doing it for him, we’re doing it with him,” one player shouted before the first game after Lang’s death.

Again, the link to Carpenter’s story is here. Take five minutes and enjoy one of the more uplifting stories of the season.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.