The Mooseheart boys basketball team seized an opportunity and won an IHSA Class 1A state championship last week, allowing the community a chance to celebrate an outstanding two seasons of high-level hoops.
The Ramblers enjoyed the run with the help of three students from South Sudan – Akim Nyang, Makur Puou and Mangisto Deng. The team had to endure debates about the players’ eligibility – to the point that the IHSA revisited its transfer bylaws. But they were allowed to play, and they delivered an experience worth savoring. It was the first state championship in school history, a feat achieved with players that stood tall – Nyang is 7-foot-1, Puou stands 6-10, and Deng is 6-7. The Ramblers finished with a superlative 29-3 record, and none of their defeats came against a team competing in Class 1A, the smallest of the four IHSA classes. They did it with style, using slick passes, slam dunks and punishing blocks. It was difficult, if not impossible, for many small-school teams to match up with such a tall, talented squad. That’s something that’s never before been experienced at Mooseheart, a school that was established in 1913.
A season like this is rare. The way it came to happen – with such a talented group of transfer students coming together – might never happen again.
These are memories worth treasuring.