Longmont's Eli Sullivan knows that, while still fresh, the pain of Friday night's Final Four loss to Valor Christian which eventually subside.
But the bond forged with his Trojan teammates, particularly the group of nine seniors who took the court together for the final time, will be something that lasts a lifetime.
"We have a tight-knit group of guys that would do anything for anyone at any given time," said Sullivan shortly after Longmont's 58-53 loss at the Coors Event Center. "It's hard to watch this one slip away, but we know it continues after high school that we'll always be there for each other."
This particular group of seniors contains many multi-sport athletes and have been through an inordinate number of battles — and heartbreaking losses — together.
The hoops squad reached the championship game undefeated last year, only to lose in overtime. That loss drove the team this year, and Longmont made it's way back to the Final Four, and had a 15 point lead with just more than 10 minutes to play, only to see Valor outscore them 30-13 in the fourth to pull out the improbable victory.
The Longmont football team — which included senior basketball teammates Sullivan, Cooper Rothe, David Speidel and Ryan Rulon — lost in the 2014 championship game and then advanced to the semifinals this year before falling.
"It's hard coming up short, but that's what pushes you to get better," Sullivan said. "That's what will push us to do better after high school in whatever we choose to do."
Trojans coach Jeff Kloster said that he, and the other coaches at the school, knew they had something special when this senior class first entered the halls four years ago.
"Our team had football players, it had baseball players, track people," Kloster said. "It is a class of kids who are just all around athletes. When they came in as freshman, we knew that it was going to be a tremendous four years because not only were they great athletes, they got the job done in the classroom.
"I am so proud of these young men because they defined what a student-athlete was all about. When you have the chance to coach young men like these, it makes your career feel very fortunate."
With his prep basketball career over, Sullivan switches his attention to track, where he's among the state's best hurdlers. After that, it's on to the University of Nebraska, where he'll be a preferred walk-on for the football team.
"I'm looking forward to working my (butt) off in track, hopefully getting a gold medal there," Sullivan said.
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