Teams near and far praise Shootout crew
They came from near and far to play the game of basketball at the 27th Annual Morris Boys Basketball Shootout this week. From both near and far, the compliments came ringing in after the event, too.
"It's summer and for the kids its all about what they can do to get better, but when you get into a championship game like this, it gives the kids something to play for," Mike Waldo, coach of Edwardsville said.
Waldo's team defeated Waubonsie Valley 53-51 in overtime to claim the championship at the event run by Morris basketball coach Joe Blumberg.
"This is a very good tournament. They have first class teams here and it's run by first class people," Waldo said. "We come three hours to get here and pass up a lot of other tournaments to get here and there is a reason for that. Coach Blumberg and his staff do a great job of running it."
From near, Minooka coach Scott Tanaka echoed similar sentiments.
"This is my favorite shootout. It is the one that is the most well run and I love it," Tanaka said. "I love it that every summer we get to end with it. Joe and his staff do a fantastic job."
Blumberg said that a lot goes into running the tournament.
"It's a credit to our officials, all of the volunteer we have, the City of Morris and everyone else that makes the tournament run," he said.
"Most shootouts are using their event as an officials clinic and the officials work for free. It gives the officials a chance to learn the mechanics of the game that way. But ours is as it always has been because we spend the money and pay for quality officiating."
Blumberg said he also likes hearing when coaches appreciate the experience of playing in the tournament at the District 101 Recreation Center.
"Our goals is to get 32 of the best teams in the State of Illinois. We want to run an event that is of quality," he said. "One that has coaches talking good about it so that teams who are not here want to come here."
One of the best things about the shootout is that players in the tournament can annually get scouted by interested collegiate teams.
"We had between 20-30 (college scouts), which is a little above what we usually have here," Blumberg said. "It's always nice to see the coaches coming here and talking to kids and know that there is the chance for them to get an opportunity at a higher education. Im glad that we can give them a place to come and showcase their abilities."
As usual, there was at least one hiccup along the way, but with the help of a couple of other schools, Blumberg was able to work around it.
"Chicago Julian was a no-show on the second day. It's disappointing and frustrating and to be honest, it's disrespectful," he said. "I'd like to thank Burlington Central and Oswego for stepping up and playing Springfield and La Salle-Peru in extra games."
As for his own team, Morris beat La Salle-Peru 57-46 but lost to Springfield 53-47 on the second day.
"We were wanting to come back and win after three losses (Tuesday)," Morris junior post player Tanner Sampson said. "We wanted to keep that same mentality going in the second game but we didn't come through. We have to learn to stay focused the whole game. It was a tough two days, but we have to learn to fight through it."