Story and photos by Paul Langfellow Photo Gallery
The MYAS one-day Winter Shootout basketball tournaments are back and this past weekend the Columbia Heights Basketball Association hosted a boys tournament at Columbia Heights High School. The tournament featured teams in grades 4th through 8th with 24 teams facing off against each other. The November 9th tournament included boys basketball teams from the Twin Cities metro as well as teams from across the state.
Unique to last Saturday’s tournament were teams that made the long journey from their home courts such as Hermantown located north near Duluth, and Stewartville, located south of Rochester. Head coach Shawn Erickson of the Stewartville White 6C didn’t seem to mind the travel time. “Being that we are from south of the Twin Cities it is awfully nice for us to come up, get three games in and turn around be back to have tomorrow [Sunday] available for us for other things,” Erickson said.
According to MYAS basketball operations manager Jeremy Innes, having non-metro teams travel to the Twin Cities is one of the great features of the one-day “Super Saver” tournaments. “Out-state (non-metro) teams really enjoy the one-day tournaments and the time commitment seems to be the primary reason” said Innes. “If we can, we try to avoid the need for hotel stays for teams traveling a large distance. Also, the metro teams enjoy having the out-state teams participate as they provide variety and they get an opportunity to play a team that they may not have played before.”
Besides the financial savings, teams like Erickson’s Stewartville squad find that the long trip in the car and the one-day experience helps build camaraderie, something that comes in handy later in the season. “It’s actually usually pretty fun as a team” Erickson explained. “This is obviously our first one this year. But as the season goes on, you kind of develop a little bit of a sense of family hanging out with the same parents and the same kids. At these one day tournaments, you spend some time with them and really get to know them.”
Other teams at Saturday’s tournament also liked the idea of a one day competition. “Our kids enjoy it more, and we can get in and out of the gym [quickly],” explained Mike Neitzel of the Mayer Knights 7th and 8th grade boys basketball team. “We put a lot of time into practice during the week so it’s nice to get it done in one day.”
Neitzel went on to say that the most important thing is leadership, “this is a combined tournament between 7th and 8th graders, so for my 8th graders this is an opportunity to learn how to be leaders, and our 7th graders get to play at a more competitive level as well,” Neitzel said. “It’s been a fun tournament for us.”
Like many other MYAS tournaments fundraising was an important reason for organizing the tournament. Tom Greenhalgh who co-runs the Columbia Heights Basketball Association explained how last Saturday’s tournament benefitted Columbia Heights basketball and beyond.
“Columbia Heights does a really interesting thing,” he explained, “We do a three way split, whatever kids work it, right now we have girls varsity basketball volunteering, they get a third of the money. The city gets a third because we are using their gyms and the Columbia Heights Basketball Association gets a third, that’s how we fund our kids.”
Jake Henderson, Activities Manager of Columbia Heights Public Schools added that “we are providing a host site, we want everyone to have an enjoyable experience at our school and it is a nice opportunity for our sports groups and teams to do a fundraiser.”
Champions from this past weekend:
4th Grade Boys B/C SMA
5th Grade Boys B/C St. Anthony B5B
6th Grade Boys A Stewartville 6A
6th Grade Boys B/C Zimmerman/Northpost
7th/8th Grade Boys C Rocori B8C