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January 16, 2013

Basketball tournament to be held in June

MT. VERNON — — The city is working to earn its name as the Festival Arts city with the addition of a June basketball tournament.

The 2013 Max Hooper Basketball Tournament will be held June 8-10 at Times Square Mall. Basketball courts will be set up in the parking lot. The tournament, through Gus Macker Basketball, will feature three-on-three games with four-player teams.

“It is a charitable tournament, and anyone can play,” said Mike Fuller, Gus Macker Basketball director of sales. “You don’t have to be Michael Jordan or LeBron James to play. The tournament is organized by height, weight and playing experience.”

The cost will be $132 for a four-person team, and some of the proceeds will go toward a local charitable organization to be announced later, said Todd Piper, Festivals Committee Chair and City Council member.

The basketball tournament is the second festival event being planned by the Mt. Vernon festivals group, said Bonnie Jerdon, Mt. Vernon Fest executive director and director of Mt. Vernon Tourism.

“It will be a full weekend for the entire family,” she said. “We’ll be partnering with Gus Macker in June, and there’s going to be a great basketball tournament in town.”

The event could feature many categories, from youth to adult competitions as well as a wheelchair bracket.

Fuller said Gus Macker Basketball tournaments feature a slam dunk contest and other alternate events for those who are on a tournament team. There will also be horse, free throw and hot shot contests.

The basketball courts will be 35 by 35 feet and be duct taped on the Times Square Mall parking lot, except for the top mens and womens courts, which will be a synthetic court top with a sound stage and bleachers, Fuller said.

He said people could come to the tournament from as far away as St. Louis, Peoria or areas south.

“People know about us,” he said. “It is our 40th anniversary this year as well. People plan their whole summers around this.”

Piper said the Festivals Committee has a goal of 350 teams for this year.

“It is absolutely regional,” he said. “We invite the legends from the region to come out.”

He said the committee approached Max Hooper, 1950 Mt. Vernon Township High School graduate and local basketball legend, about using his name for the tournament.

“He said yes and volunteered to be a spokesman and talk to the surrounding community about the tournament,” Piper said. “He believes in Mt. Vernon, and he wants to get people from age three to his age participating.”

Piper said he has contacted other basketball greats from the region, who are all excited about the event.

The committee is seeking sponsors of all shapes and sizes for the event, as well as volunteers.

For more information on the basketball tournament, visit macker.com or call the Mt. Vernon Tourism Department at 242-3151.

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