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The fighting spirit and tenacity of the Rolling Meadows High School girls basketball team was cheered when its members returned to school Monday morning, celebrating a historic drive for the state title that was thwarted Saturday only by a single, well-timed basket by Marian Catholic.
But more is expected from the fiercely competitive Rolling Meadows squad, which will lose only one senior -- Morgan Keller -- to graduation this summer.
The entire Rolling Meadows student body packed into the gym Monday for a congratulatory rally that included a video of season highlights and the presentation of the Class 4A Runner-Up trophy to Principal Eileen Hart and Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Board Member Bill Dussling.
"This is a part of history!" school athletic director Jim Voyles told the assembly. "You're living the moment!"
The girls basketball team is the first Rolling Meadows sports team to bring home a state trophy since 1995. The team lost the state title in heartbreaking fashion Saturday when Marian Central hit a shot at the buzzer to win the championship game 48-47.
The captains of the Mustangs team, including the graduating Keller, thanked their parents and fellow students for the support they'd received throughout their winning season.
"I would like to thank our Stampede for coming out to all our games," captain Jenny Vliet said. "I can't wait for next year!"
Many of the players were still too emotional to say much.
"I wanted to say how proud I am to be a part of this team," was all Keller could get out before choking up.
The rally ended with Hart and Dussling holding the runner-up trophy over their heads as the assembly clapped along with the marching band's performance of the school fight song.
But as the concluding text of the video presentation promised, "This story isn't over ..."