Basketball started at Belleville Township High School during the 1916-17 season. More than 100 former players, coaches and cheerleaders celebrated the program’s centennial season by attending that game on West’s campus Friday.
At halftime, former coaches Jerry Turner, Dave Shannahan, Roger Mueller, Bill Schmidt and current coach Joe Muniz were introduced as they led the attending players from their eras onto the court for a round of applause.
Former cheerleaders and their coaches received similar ovations prior to the start of the game.
“What was really cool was seeing guys from my first team, guys I haven’t seen in 13 years. You know, that was so cool,” Muniz said. “Belleville West has a great tradition and I was really pleased with the number of people we had show up for this event. I was really looking to the reception afterward just to sit down and talk with everyone.”
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Muniz had less to say about his Belleville West Maroons’ key win over the Alton Redbirds on Friday than he did about visiting with the former coaches and players who attended the celebration.
And he hopes the experience wasn’t lost on his current Maroons.
“We talked before the game about how special this school and this community is,” Muniz said. “You don’t get to experience something like this unless you go to a big-time school and play basketball or football or whatever. To have the student body here and the crowd we had. This is a memory for a lifetime.”
The Maroons seemed inspired enough. West dominated Alton, also a charter member of the Southwestern Conference, 71-46.