Elijah Long fulfilled as many ticket requests as he could, but it wasn't enough.
The Mount St. Mary's freshman guard is from Mississauga, Ont., about an hour up Queen Elizabeth Way, so he's playing as close to home as he has at any point this season Thursday night when the Mountaineers take on top-seeded Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I put in a group for tickets and there's supposed to be 26 of my family members come up, but I didn't get all those tickets," Long said. "I only have nine, so only nine people can come up. But other than that, though, it's amazing, because my parents don't get to see me to play in person a lot. They're always in Canada. Sometimes they can't cross the border or they're just busy. So when moments like this come along, and I can play an hour away from my house, it's surreal. I thank God for it. God always has a plan, so, it's a humbling experience."
Long has played in 30 games with 23 starts for the Mountaineers, averaging 5.6 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. One of 10 siblings, he's the first Canadian player to play for the Mount.
Despite his relative proximity to Western New York, Long isn't all that familiar with our area, save for one exception.
"The only time I traveled to Buffalo is to get airports, because they're cheap," he joked. "I would drive here, passed the border to catch a flight to go to either my high school or back to the Mount.