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The Newport Public Library will advance to the National Semi-Finals this April in an unprecedented March Madness run.
Newport has not made the championships since 2006 and has never before triumphed beyond the Round of 64. But after its scorching defeat of Fargo Public Library in the opening-round game, Newport landed a no. 16 seed.
The team hasn’t looked back since, defeating Indianapolis 15-11 and Milwaukee 20-15. Newport then went on to shock audiences and confound bracket-happy fans by destroying the Miami-Dade Public Library System, 37-0.
“WOOOOOOO!” said Newport Library director Ted Smith after the Miami shutout.
Moving on to the semifinals, Newport faced its greatest challenge yet: three-time champion Brooklyn Public Library of Brooklyn, New York. Newport made it look easy in earlier rounds, but its mettle was brutally tested against second-seeded Brooklyn, which battled the small coastal library for every point.
Newport forged ahead in the final quarter to win 32-31, staggering fans with the knowledge that Newport was advancing to the Final Four. Unconfirmed reports that Las Vegas bookmakers lost over $200 million on the upset seem plausible.
This year’s tournament has been full of surprises, including an impressive early surge by Hudson Public Library of Highlands, North Carolina. Hudson’s drive for the top was ultimately halted by Sarasota, itself a Cinderella-story after its improbable defeat of top-seeded San Diego in the Elite Eight.
Next up: the National Semi-Finals, in which Newport is slated to face the John Henry Faulks Central Library of Austin, Texas, a library well known for its steely drive to win. Austin is widely predicted to triumph, but Newport’s Smith seems confident.
“It’ll be a tough game,” said Smith. “But we are ready for that challenge.”
“We’re not going in there with the idea that we’ve come far enough,” continued Smith. “We want to keep going all the way to the top.”
The Newport-Austin game is scheduled to take place on April Fool’s Day, 2013.