Crowds Send "Bonnies" to NCAA

March 14, 2012 Updated Mar 14, 2012 at 7:29 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

March 14, 2012 Updated Mar 14, 2012 at 7:29 PM EDT

(Olean, NY) Several hundred people turned out to cheer on the Saint Bonaventure men's basketball team as they headed off to play in the NCAA tournament.

On campus, a large crowd of university employees, students, and fans chanted "Let's Go Bona!" as Coach Mark Schmidt and the players boarded a bus for the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.

"I appreciate all the support," said Coach Schmidt through a bullhorn.

"We are going to come back with two victories, and we are going to head to Boston."

A police and fire escort led the team bus through the streets of Allegany and Olean, where hundreds of people lined the streets, cheered, and held signs.

All the schools in the area sent students outside to wave at the motorcade - many students with homemade signs.

"This is big for Olean," exclaimed an excited Fr. Greg Dobson, Pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Church.

"These kids are going to remember this for a long time to come."