Perched atop a Belleville Fire Department ladder truck, wearing their state championship medals and carrying their championship trophy, the Belleville West boys basketball team enjoyed a long ride down Main Street and Frank Scott Parkway.
During Sunday's 6 mph ride from Signal Hill Elementary School down Main Street, Maroons fans lined the street. Many honked car horns, or held signs, including one that said “West is the Best” congratulating the boys basketball team on winning the Class 4A state championship.
As the team rode on the fire engine, they procession passed by Althoff Catholic High School, which won a boys’ basketball state championship in 2016.
The parade ended at Belleville West High School, where a rally was held in a gym packed with supporters.
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Among the players to speak at the rally was Gatorade Player of the Year E.J. Liddell, who thanked those in the crowd for their support, as well as his teammates.
“I wouldn’t get the awards I’ve been getting without my teammates,” Liddell said. “I couldn’t have done this without them ... We came to practice every day. Outside of basketball we’re always communicating, and we’re great friends.”
"We brought a lot of people back together. Everybody loves Belleville West," Liddell added.
During the rally, Head Coach Joe Muniz introduced each player and pointed out each of their contributions to the team.
“This is a special group of guys,” Muniz said. “All season long they battled hard, did what they needed to do to win. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished.”
Among those who spoke at the rally, were Belleville High School Superintendent Jeff Dosier and Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert.
“The entire city is so proud of this accomplishment,” Eckert said. “It is fabulous. It means so much to have these bragging rights. And the way you guys handled yourself. They showed character. They showed a lot of character.”
Lee Meyer, athletic director at Belleville West, shared credit for the success with those in the stands.
“Everybody that needs to be thanked is in this gym,” Meyer said. “It’s all of you in the stands. It’s all of the parents that makes these guys what they are, and that’s quality students, quality individuals and obviously quality basketball players.”