Cagers of all ages have fun at Mustang tourney
Students may be on break, but there is no hiatus from hoops -- at least not for the basketball junkies at Rolling Meadows High School Sunday.
The Mustang 3-on-3 Shootout Basketball Tournament, in its 20th year, is stronger than ever.
The gym resounded with bouncing basketballs, the squeak of athletic shoes and the raised voices of athletes, as players ranging in age from 8 through their mid-20s took their turns on the floor throughout the day.
Dave Dillon, the event's coordinator, the field grew to 48 teams this year, up from 37 last year.
The money goes to the Rolling Meadows High School Athletic Boosters and then is turned over to the school to serve the needs of the athletic programs. The cash has paid for new uniforms, scoreboard improvements and rehabbed fields.
The booster club's president, Jerry Kramp, said more than $250,000 has been raised over the past eight years.
"It's where we make our money," he said. "This is how we get our money to donate it back to the school."
The round-robin format is demanding, and, with the games limited to 20 minutes or 20 points (whichever comes first), the games move at a healthy clip.
"We really appreciate being able to get the kids the number of games. You want to see them come out and get a chance to play," Dillon said.
Among the players was Kramp's son Patrick, a shooting guard at Aurora University and a Rolling Meadows alum.
In addition to playing, he also acted as a referee for earlier games.
"It's nice to be home and come back and still help out the high school," said Patrick, who holds fond memories of tournaments past.
"When I was younger, I played it every year, and it was just so much fun," he said. "Even now, everyone comes home and looks forward to it. It's just an all around blast. It's like you're playing in the driveway, but you've got officials out here, you've got a scorekeeper. You're playing for a trophy."
For younger players like Kelly Boyle, 12, who attends South Middle School in Arlington Heights and hopes to go on to play in high school and maybe even college, it's a chance to work on being a better player and teammate while enjoying the camaraderie.
"You get to socialize with your friends, but also play something that you love to do," Kelly said. "It's a tournament, but it's also just a time to improve your skills and practice."
The tournament was just as much fun for the parents.
Arlington Heights resident Mark Nebel was enjoying his spot on the sidelines, shifting his attention between daughter Grace, an eighth-grader at South Middle School in Arlington Heights, on one side of the court, and on Ben, a third-grader at Westgate Elementary School in Arlington Heights, on another side.
He said players have to bring all their skills to this type of tournament.
"It's fast paced, and they have to be aware of everybody around them," he said. "With only three on three, they have to know how to pass quickly, shoot quickly. It's a running clock, so it's nonstop."