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Journalism Showcase: SC Featured Highlights Cheyney State’s Remarkable 1982 Women’s Basketball Team

"The Lone Wolves," premiering Sunday on SportsCenter, recounts the story of the only HBCU hoops team to make the NCAA FInal Four in men's or women's play and its nomination for the Basketball Hall Of Fame

On March 28, 1982, the Cheyney University Lady Wolves laced up their sneakers against the top-ranked Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters, knowing that despite all the odds and no matter the outcome, they were making history as the first HBCU Women’s or Men’s Basketball program to compete in an NCAA Division I Final Four Championship.

More than 40 years later, that team from Cheyney, Pennsylvania, remains the only HBCU squad to compete in the Final Four or championship game. The Lady Wolves’ “Black girl magic” is celebrated with the team’s official nomination to the 2023 James Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ballot.

Celebrating Black History Month, the SC Featured segment, “The Lone Wolves,” produced by Temitayo Anjou and reported by Scoop Jackson, will debut Sunday, Feb. 26, in the 8 a.m. ET hour SportsCenter and re-air in later SC editions.

Anjou spoke with Front Row:

What inspired you to tell this story?
You have [Hall Of Fame Head Coach] C. Vivian Stringer getting her start by volunteering to coach the basketball team and building it into a powerhouse. Then you have what she endured with her young daughter during their historic season. Add to that how talented this team was, coming from such a small school, and it’s easy to be inspired.

What impact do you think the 1982 Cheyney State Lady Wolves had on HBCU Basketball?
I think this team showed what’s possible. Regardless of the circumstances and what one may or may not have, if you’ve got dedicated players who want to compete, there’s always a chance.

What message do you hope the audience takes away from this piece?
I hope the audience takes away 1) how incredible of a story this is and 2) that much like “Hidden Figures,” there are many stories of great accomplishments in the Black community that just aren’t as well-known as they should be.

ESPN’s Scoop Jackson interviews former Cheyney State star Valerie Walker. (Temitayo Anjou/ESPN)
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