SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The Ozarks is known as a hotbed of basketball support and for those who can’t get enough of the sport this weekend marks an early Christmas present.
Starting Friday night and running through Sunday afternoon is the 48 Hour Basketball Tournament sponsored by Big Shots Golf and organized by the Greenwood Laboratory School and the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association.
The tournament is taking place at Greenwood’s Event Center on the campus of Missouri State University and is actually an offshoot of a similar event the MBCA has put on for several years in Columbia, the Norm Stewart Classic.
“This is a branch of the Norm Stewart Classic and the first pilot of expansion off that event,” said Jeni Hopkins, the Co-Director of the tournament as well as a well-known local broadcaster and former coach.
“We have the only 48-hour events in the country that does this for high school basketball,” said MBCA Executive Director and longtime area coach Denny Hunt. “And kids love playing at two-in-the morning. Now I’ll have to be honest, some coaches balk a little bit.”
“48 hours is a great event because you do get to have games continuously, even overnight,” Hopkins added. “I mean when can you say you played a game at 4 a.m. or 6 a.m.?”
The Laquey girls high school basketball team will be able to say that after this weekend. They’re playing Kauffman at 4 a.m. Saturday morning in their first-ever overnight game.
“It’s crazy,” admitted Laquey senior Aurora Rice. “I don’t know how we’re even going to stay awake for it. But I feel like the adrenaline will keep us up. We’re all pretty excited though. It’s very different.”
“We’ll get to build a memory that will hopefully last for the rest of these girls’ lives,” added Laquey Girls Head Coach Michael Parten.
“A lot of them really like the challenge,” Hopkins pointed out. “We have coaches who will request the overnight games simply because it is such a unique opportunity and it is fun for their program. So it is something maybe they won’t do twice or three times but they do want to be able to say they’ve done that once.”
Of course continuous games stretching out over three days also becomes a challenge as far as getting the support staff for everything from concessionaires to game officials.
“Just one regular game takes a lot of people to run,” Hopkins said. “So you have to multiply that several times over and find someone who is willing to work overnight. So sometimes it is a challenge to staff an event like this. We have to have a big staff and a lot of volunteers who are vested in what we’re doing.”
But while the spirit is willing, the flesh is sometimes weak.
“We had a table worker (clock operator) who fell asleep one time,” Hopkins recalled. “We were getting ready to start the warm-ups for the next game and noticed the clock was not running so we had to run over and wake him up.”
But on the other end of the spectrum are some diehard fans who love the challenge.
“We have a gentleman who comes to the Norm Stewart Classic every year with a blanket and a pillow and stays for the whole 48 hours,” Hopkins said.
The tournament raises money for Special Olympics and the Boys and Girls Clubs and there will be over 30 teams taking part including the prestigious Link Academy from Branson.
“We’ve got teams from Tennessee, Georgia and of course a lot of local participants,” Hopkins said. “There will be a lot of good talent in this gym.”
And even for those who run the event, there’s something special about being here.
“I’ve broadcasted some of the overnight games and it’s fun to look out the window and see the sun coming up,” Hopkins said.
“The nights do get long,” Hunt admitted. “But what I do if things are going pretty good is go find a couch and tell ‘em if they need something to come and get me.”
Here’s the schedule and information:
6:00 PM-School of the Osage vs South Iron (Boys)
8:00 PM-Republic vs Helias (Girls)
10:00 PM-Springfield Central vs Warrensburg (Boys)
12:00 AM South Iron vs Eldon (Girls)
4:00 AM-Kauffman vs Laquey (Girls)
6:00 AM-Paseo vs School of the Osage (Boys)
8:00 AM-Kauffman vs White Haven (TN) (Boys)
10:00 AM-Special Olympics/Boys and Girls Club
12:00 PM-Greenwood vs Summit Christian (Girls)
2:00 PM-Ozark vs Park Hills Central (Girls)
4:00 PM-Lebanon vs Springfield Central (Girls)
6:00 PM-The Skill Factory (GA) vs Link Year Prep National (Boys)
8:00 PM-Link Academy vs Hickman (Boys)
10:00 PM Strafford vs Mexico (Boys)
12:00 AM-Springfield Central vs Whitehaven (TN) (Boys)
4:00 AM-Lincoln College Prep vs West County (Girls)
6:00 AM-Rosati-Kain vs Bishop DuBourg (Girls)
8:00 AM-Crane vs St Elizabeth (Girls)
10:00 AM-Crane vs St Elizabeth (Boys)
12:00 PM-Mexico vs Hillcrest (Girls)
2:00 PM-Link Year Prep (Regional) vs The Skill Factory (GA) (Boys)
General Information: Website: 48hrsbball.normstewart.org
Streaming: The event will be streamed live on the Springfield Sports Channel through CityLink: 48 Hours Event-Springfield
Facebook: 48 Hours of Basketball
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