Long Beach State fans rally behind team at local watch party during emotional March Madness game

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LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — The March Madness fever was high in Long Beach after the Long Beach State basketball team played their first game in the big dance after a 12-year hiatus.

“I am really excited that Long Beach State is playing for March Madness. We deserve it. We got a good team. And we’ve been working hard for a lot of years,” said Long Beach resident Kelly Janke.

The March Madness showdown unfolded in Salt Lake City, Utah where the team faced off against the University of Arizona. But that didn’t stop fans from showing their support and high energy at the watch party held at Legends Sports Bar in Long Beach.

“We won the conference a couple of years ago. So, It’s always fun to come out, especially at Legends at our home bar and represent,” said Long Beach resident Nathan Peele.

The atmosphere was electric as fans sat on the edge of their seats cheering on the players.

“The beginning of the game until halftime, things looked so enthusiastically well and I had high hopes for it. I was like, ‘wow this is unbelievably great,'” said Long Beach resident Robert Finger.

The outcome wasn’t quite what fans were expecting. Long Beach ended up losing to Arizona with a final score of 65 to 85. But even after parting ways with their head coach Dan Monson just last week, Long Beach State beat all odds against them and made it to the first round of the tournament.

“He’s been there for a while and I really like how he’s handled it. I mean, he could have just really been bitter about it, but he loves the kids, he loves the program,” said Long Beach resident Danny Rollins.

“I still think it was a Cinderella story absolutely. I mean they were the fourth seed in the Big West tournament. They ended up beating Irvine, which was the number one seed and they made it here. So, we’re just happy to be here and it was a great experience,” said Long Beach resident Shane Bogt.

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