Seats were at a premium this morning as a near-capacity crowd raucously saluted the Perry boys basketball team before their departure to the state tournament. Perry faces Pella in the Class 3A State Quarterfinals at 8:15 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
The Perry players and coaches were introduced, with head coach Ned Menke urging his team on and asking for continued support from the fans.
“The team really feeds on your support, which has been just great,” he said. “I hope to see all of you down there tonight.”
Seniors Ryan Rathje and Shammond Ivory also spoke in gratitude to the student and community support the team has received.
Special guests Frank Howell and Matt McKnight, both members of Perry’s 1988 State Championship team, were introduced as well. Howell spoke affectionately of his recollections of winning the state title and wished the current Bluejay squad well.
Several skits and contests were held, the faculty “Staff Stompers” performed two cheers with help from the cheerleaders and the Perry pep band performed.
Members of the public were in attendance, along with the entire grade 6-12 student body, including middle school students from St. Patrick’s school.
The Perry team bus was escorted out of town by the Perry Police and Perry Volunteer Fire Departments, with a boisterous crowd saluting the team as they passed down east Willis Avenue, past numerous signs that had been placed in support of the squad.