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Gus Macker hits the streets of Morris today

Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 9:05 p.m. CDT

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MORRIS – This year’s Gus Macker watchers are in for a treat, with the inaugural competition between the Morris Police Department and the Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District.

The local agencies will play a “Guns and Hoses” basketball game at 1 p.m. Saturday as part of the 12th annual Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which is taking over the streets of downtown Morris this weekend.

Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes proposed a friendly wager Friday to Police Chief Brent Dite, that the loser will buy two extra-large pizzas for the winner, which Dite accepted.

The police, who some might think have the upper hand due to their annual Faculty vs. The Fuzz charity game with Morris Community High School, are hoping their age and experience will get them the win, Dite said.

“This is like football on a basketball court, not running up and down the court,” Dite said. “The average age of the firemen I’ve seen is like 22. They have young, athletic firemen, so it’s going to be age and experience against able bodies.”

Steffes said he has a special team in place, with four guys who are in good shape, but he won’t let anyone know who is playing. He’s saving the surprise for the team’s advantage on the court. He predicts the fire department will win 15-10.

“It’s a good community thing to do,” Steffes said. “People can come watch two local agencies spit, die and cough on the court. It’s a good thing.”

The year’s tournament is expected to again draw nearly 1,000 players and 8,500 spectators from more than 150 Illinois communities and five states, according to a news release from the Morris Downtown Development Partnership, which hosts the event.

The basketball-filled weekend couldn’t happen without the countless workers who help put it together.

The Morris High School football team was on hand Thursday to prepare the baskets to be moved to their downtown location Friday.

“We’ve helped out for years,” coach Alan Thorson said. “It’s a good way to teach the players to give back to their community.”

MDDP Executive Director Julie Applegate said the team helps each year out of the goodness of their hearts and are not one of the many organizations that assist with the tournament as a way to raise funds for their respective groups.

In the past 11 years, the MDDP has given more than $100,000 back to community organizations that have assisted with the tournament. This year, 10 volunteer groups are assisting, Applegate said, including a new group, the Grundy County Sheriff Police Explorers.

Every player in Macker is guaranteed at least three games, so no matter how a player fares the first time on the court, he or she is not out. Those who do make it on to the championship rounds can look forward to trophy presentations for first through third place. Special sportsmanship medals are awarded at each court for the team that exemplifies good sportsmanship. All registered players also receive a T-shirt for participating in the event.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Saturday

• 7 a.m. to noon: Registration. The registration tent is at the corner of Washington and Liberty streets on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn.

• 8 a.m.: Opening ceremonies, at the top court at the corner of Liberty and Main streets.

• 8:30 a.m.: Games begin

• 9 a.m.: Grundy County sheriff vs. Grundy County states attorney free throw contest

• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: 3-Point shoot-out and free throw contest, corner of Liberty and Jefferson streets.

• 1 p.m.: “Guns and Hoses” tournament between members of the Morris Police Department and the Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District.

• 6 p.m.: Slam dunk contest, corner of Liberty and Main streets. 

SUNDAY

• 8 a.m.: Games Begin

• 10 a.m. to noon: 3-Point shoot-out and free throw contest, corner of Liberty and Jefferson.

• 10 a.m. – Finish: Trophy presentations, corner of Washington and Liberty on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn.

Sponsors

Major support for the event is being provided by Walmart, Grundy Bank, ATI Physical Therapy, Ortiz Eye and Hearing Associates P.C., Big R, Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan, Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland, Shaw Media, Stott Contracting, Republic Services and the Quality Inn. Additional support is offered by WCSJ/WJDK radio and Morris Daily Herald/Herald Life. The Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau has also provided support.

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