CHAPEL HILL — Sylvia Hatchell had plenty of reasons to smile last weekend.
Hatchell, who has been on leave while undergoing chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, was able to watch from an observation post about 25 feet above the court at Carmichael Auditorium as her No. 14-ranked Tar Heels blew past visiting High Point 103-71 on Saturday afternoon.
Later that evening, she was surprised by several friends and well-wishers who serenaded her with Christmas carols at her house in southern Orange County.
Hatchell’s 28-year assistant Andrew Calder is directing the Tar Heels, who improved to 11-2 with Saturday’s win.
Hatchell, who has met with her team several times during her absence from the sidelines, was kept away from the media on Saturday and did not do interviews. She stood for the national anthem but remained seated and waved when she was introduced to the crowd before the game.
“I’m so excited to watch our team play,” Hatchell said in a prepared statement released by the university. “I’m feeling great right now, with my (white blood-cell) numbers coming back really good.
“Patience is one of the hardest things right now for me, because I want so badly to get back with the team. I know I have three more treatments to go through over the next few months. If all goes as planned, you could see me back on the bench this season.”