EVEN THOSE hardened critics of anything that moves--our colleagues in the sports department--were as moved as the rest of us by what John Thompson and His Marvelous Young Men did for their school, their town, their sport and themselves.

No scriptwriter could have whipped up a more gripping national championship game or a more compelling cast than we watched Monday night. Here was an all-class performance, with two wonderfully talented, superbly directed teams in a spectacularly hard-fought battle. Then, just as breathtaking, came the surprise ending of heartache and defeat for Georgetown's Hoyas--which they suffered with great courage and grace.

Who among us wasn't wrenched by the torment of sophomore Fred Brown, whose split-second lapse ended the game for Georgetown, one point behind? And who wasn't impressed by Coach Thompson's immediate and genuine embrace of his young charge, and his effort to console him with the observation that Mr. Brown had won more games for him than he had lost? And then this player faces all the inquiring reporters at his locker, and when someone asks, "How can you be so composed?" says, "This is part of growing up."

Dave Kindred yesterday noted the elaborate background of the drama. "A mostly black basketball team representing a mostly white university in a mostly black city that is the capital of a mostly white country presents a spider's web of sociological threads so intertangled we'll never figure out why they lead where they do. . . to Georgetown cocktail parties . . . Duke's shoeshine place on 13th Street . . . Capitol Hill and to cracked asphalt playgrounds."

So let the awe, the joy, the pride and the affection hang out--Father Healy the Proud President certainly has, and with insight: "Once these 10 kids are on the basketball court, you are watching one of the few things in any society which is just as clean as a whistle and which is solidly, humanly good."

Amen.