And the beat...of the basketball goes on here in Norwich.
Hard to believe for those who were there for year one, but this Saturday and Sunday is the 18th iteration of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, and the last year in the sixth three-year contract with the national hoops organization.
In the early years, the tournament entries grew exponentially doubling the original year's total of 200-plus teams in just two years. After exceeding 500 teams in the fourth year, local officials began to scale back.
"We had to cap the number of teams we allowed based on the number of volunteers we needed," said local tournament director Tom Revoir, who is in his 17th year in that capacity. "We're at 403 teams this year, and we've been between 400 and 420 every year. We're right where we need to be."
Drawing enough teams to the tournament may never be a problem in this basketball-crazy community. Over the last decade and a half, just about every star player in Chenango County – particularly Norwich – has played in this tournament numerous times.
Revoir said that school-aged kids from elementary to high school occupy the largest segment of entries with approximately two-thirds of the 31 courts comprised of players in the eight to 18 age range.
For those returning to the tournament, all of the rules remain the same and advancement through the double-elimination brackets is also the same. As always, the tournament will be highlighted by bonus activities following Saturday's play with the three-point shootout and the dunk competition, sponsored by Mid York Press and the U.S. Army respectively.
Tournament action will resume on Sunday morning, and Revoir said some of the courts with larger brackets will not complete play until late Sunday afternoon.
Following the completion of the tournament, the process of evaluating the tournament will begin, Revoir said. "This will be the end of our sixth three-year contract, and we always reevaluate based on our volunteers, the number of teams, and the sponsorship," he said. "It's not a decision that I make or Jamey (Mullen, YMCA executive director) makes. We have a Gus Macker tournament committee that makes the final decision."
The smashing success of the community-oriented tournament should make that final decision another slam dunk.