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Louisville women’s basketball punches Final Four ticket, then gives back to Wichita

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The Louisville women's basketball team was ecstatic after winning the NCAA tournament regional final 62-50 over Michigan in Wichita on Monday night.

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When Louisville sophomore phenom Hailey Van Lith heard her name, she was cradling the regional championship trophy surrounded by confetti. From the first row of the stands, a swarm of 15-year-old girls shrieked her name.

No one would have questioned Van Lith's decision to disregard the yells and carry on with her celebration.

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Van Lith left the post-game party to hop over the barrier, even with a limp, to take pictures and chat with a group of local adolescents she didn't know.

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“I think I owe it to them. I was in their spot not long ago and if I was them, I would hope that the player would come over to me and take a picture,” Van Lith told The Eagle.

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“With all the social media its easy to be selfish and individual. That God mademe to empower young females via basketball. This is my mission on Earth, to encourage those girls to greatness”

Destiny Smith and Naomi White were two of those girls, both sophomores on the Derby girls basketball team that just competed in the Class 6A state final.

They both aim to play Division I basketball and look up to the Louisville players they watched on Friday and Monday.

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Even before Louisville was selected to the Wichita regional, the girls stated that Louisville was their favorite college basketball team to watch.

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“I’ve been watching Hailey play since she was in high school,” White said. “I love watching her play. She’s so good. I love her so much.”

“I just love watching basketball and seeing how hard these girls work and everything they do,” Smith added. “It’s so much different watching them in person than watching them on TV.”

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