Unity Mustangs celebrate first state tournament win

Unity Mustangs celebrate first State tournament win.

Mendon's Unity Mustangs took home the third place trophy in the Class 1A State tournament in Peoria this weekend.

The team made Mendon basketball history by being the first team to ever make it all the way to the state tournament.

On Sunday afternoon, the town came out to celebrate this historic victory.

Sirens blared while parents and fans screamed as the boys took off down Collins Street to share the glory with their community.

It's an accomplishment Unity Mustang fans thought they'd never see.

"This definitely ranks in some of the, one of the best things that happened to this small town of Mendon," Unity Mustangs guard Marcus Jansen said. "I know everyone has kind of taken part and has really brought us together as a community."

For the first time in Mustang history, the team competed in the tournament in Peoria.

"It's great to be part of it, we worked hard all four years to get here," Unity Mustang point guard Dylan Shaffer said. "I couldn't be happier with what we accomplished this year."

Although the players lost Friday's semifinal game, they still have a third place trophy to bring home to Mendon. And for this small Illinois town, this victory is one for the history books.

"They have made State history and it is really brought our community together," Mendon CUSD 4 Board Member Danielle Fleer said. "You know people that really didn't even follow basketball before, or don't even have children in our school district have just rallied together and everyone's just so proud of these boys."

Generations of the basketball team's fans gathered outside of Unity High School to watch their team climb aboard a fire truck.

"This is got to be one of the best feelings I've ever had," Jansen said. "I mean as a senior, you couldn't ask for anything better than this and the support of the community has just been the cherry on the top of the cake."

But some players say they will always wonder what the feeling would be like to have won first place in the tournament.

"Knowing it's over is kind of upsetting, a little bit, and I wish I could go back and do it all over again no matter what," Shaffer said. "I'm sure everyone else on the team does, feels that way, too."

For now, the community has never felt this close.

"You know it's just really exciting for all of us," Fleer said.

The trophy now has an honored place inside Unity High School.