HULL, Iowa -- Boyden-Hull's championship boys' basketball team arrived at their welcome home at the gym at Hull after a ride on a fire truck through Main Street and on to the school.
As students waited in front of the school, fans filled the bleachers in the school gymnasium.
The trip to the local gym took the team through Treynor, North Mahaska, and finally past Newell-Fonda in the 1A championship held at Vet's Auditorium at Des Moines on Friday night. The score, 49-35.
Presiding at the welcome-home, faculty member Dennis Wright, and former Hull mayor, said, "This is a class act we have here, folks."
In his second year as head coach, Bill Francis said, "Everything felt special in Des Moines. As we were riding in the bus to the finals, I noticed we had seats in section, 83; 22 ago in '83 I helped Palmer win the state tournament as a player. That was a sign this game was ours.
"The team didn't seem nervous," Francis said. "They knew they had a job to do and were going to get it done. So many people have talked to me about these kids -- how nice and polite they are. They smile, they pat others on the back -- they're good sports. They get an unbelievable amount of respect, but when they're on the court playing, they can 'rip the heart' out of an opponent."
"Thanks, team," Francis said, "for taking me along for the ride."
"We're extra proud of our team," parent Deb Reinke said. "They weren't in it for their individual stats or glory. They wanted to accomplish this as a team. They love basketball, and were privileged to do this for our community."
"This means the word to me," point-guard Dan De Jong said. "I just love these guys. We got the monkey off our backs this year. This last game is the one we've been playing for."
Ciitizens State Bank of Boyden, which was presented the game ball in Des Moines, passed it on to the championship team to be displayed along with their trophy.
Steve Vermeer, representing the Farm Bureau who provided a souvenir basketball (half of it white for signatures) to all the team members, said the team showed what a group can do when they work together.
Bob Boote, who actually presented the balls to the players and who had coached the team as eighth-graders, said, "In this farming community we know all about planting the seeds. And that is what many have been doing through the years. We don't always get to see the harvest when we plant, but there can't be one without those seeds."
Boote then introduced Paul Walton, former Boyden-Hull coach, who addressed the crowd briefly, calling the event "totally awesome."
Keith Sietstra and Blake Reinke, both named to the All-Tournament team, Reinke as captain, thanked the fans and parents for the support and cooperation they had received throughout the years.
"This championship meant so much to me," Cody Van Sloten, a key reserve said. "I'll remember it forever, even if my knee injury prevented me from playing much."
Van Sloten will have knee surgery on April 2.
A t-shirt worn by students during the days before the tournament read "Takin' Care of Business." And that they did.