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CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--All week long the Harvard's women's basketball team was talking about fate--fate was the reason the Crimson drew a first-round matchup with UNC in the NCAA Tournament.
It is likely, however, that none of the Harvard players thought that fate would result in a 78-53 loss at Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
But maybe fate did play a role in this game, at least for Harvard co-captains Jessica Gelman and Kelly Black. You see, for Black and Gelman, the prelude to this game, their last for Harvard, began long before last night.
Gelman and Black first met each other four years ago at Blue Star Basketball Camp in Chapel Hill. By pure coincidence, the two high school seniors were placed on the same team.
During the week, Black and Gelman forged a deep friendship. It was then that they first spoke of attending Harvard.
Little did they know how that decision and the entire week would set them on a path toward destiny. Together, they would lead the Crimson to tremendous success and history-making accomplishments.
During the Black-Gelman years, Harvard's basketball program has flourished and gained national prominence. In the last two years alone, the Crimson has captured consecutive Ivy League championships and earned back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths.
But the fun only starts there.
Under this duo's captaincy, Harvard romped through the Ivy League this season, defeating its opponents by an average of better than 20 points per game. The result, a 14-0 league record, was the first time in history that an Ivy team finished the season undefeated in league play.
But wait, there's more.
The Crimson also broke the record for most consecutive Ivy League victories. The new streak currently stands at 26 and counting.
Through all this success, Black and Gelman knew there was something more to come. And when Harvard clinched the Ivy title two weeks ago, the two seniors knew wherein their destiny lay.
Both captains predicted they would play North Carolina in the tourney. More importantly, however, both of them wanted to play North Carolina.
Black and Gelman wanted to return to the place where their fabulous track record had begun in hopes of achieving ultimate glory. These two seniors wanted to write one more page in the history books.
The NCAA selection committee graciously obliged, and fate awaited the captains and the Crimson in Chapel Hill. But fate is often cruel, and last night (with some help from a talent-rich UNC squad) it derailed the seniors' plans. Or did it?
Gelman and Black may not have led Harvard to a thrilling upset, but let's face it: Carolina is stacked. What the two captains did was end their Crimson careers with the same dignity and desire for the game which they have displayed for the last four years.
More importantly, Black and Gelman wrote the final chapter to a journey of friendship and leadership which began in Chapel Hill but developed and flourished in Cambridge.
"It's almost like it was meant to be this way," Black said. "Jess and I will be friends for life."
The fate of these lifelong friends was not determined last night; it has developed over four impressive years and culminated in this season's perfection, which will be the legacy of Harvard captains Kelly Black and Jessica Gelman.
"It's weird how things in life come full circle," Gelman said. "It's time for us to move on--it's time for another circle to begin."
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