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CELEBRATING 45 Years of 3-ON-3
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BELDING, MI GUS MACKER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (7-29-2018)
45 YEARS OF GUS MACKER: Belding Tournament Caps Anniversary Celebration
“Still Home Hoopin’ After All These Years”
BELDING – The “hometown” Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament will be played next weekend for the 32nd time in Belding and 45th overall highlighting an anniversary celebration for the national tour that started in a Lowell driveway.
A field of 479 teams, the most in recent years, is expected Saturday and Sunday, and will follow a Thursday night induction and banquet for the 45th Anniversary Class of the Gus Macker Hall of Fame at Candlestone Golf & Resort, as well as a special Friday morning Macker Hall of Fame Tournament in the East Mall Parking Lot downtown.
A Macker Hacker four-person scramble golf outing is Thursday morning at Candlestone, and Macker and Grand Rapids basketball legend Melvin “Sugar” McLaughlin is presenting a youth basketball camp Tuesday through Thursday at Belding High School as part of the other festivities planned.
Scott McNeal, a.k.a. Gus Macker, the owner of the national touring 3-on-3 basketball tournament company, said the week is a celebration of Macker past and present.
“We’ve evolved over the years, and there have been so many great people who have made it possible,” he said. “We are honoring those people, our past, as well as the present and the new generation of Macker players.
“Some people might remember a rough and tumble basketball in Belding, but in this era we have registered officials on all the courts and we have a youth movement. We have the third generation of Macker players here, and we remain focused on wholesome family entertainment.”
As for the Hall of Fame, Macker dunk legend Basil Hampton of Jackson, the Ludington Macker Committee, Norwich, N.Y., tournament organizers Jamey Mullen and Tom Revoir, Central Michigan University professors Tim Otteman and Lori Irwin and Tony Wysinger, the Pride of Peoria, Ill., will be inducted Thursday.
The two dynamic duos, two individual standouts and longtime popular Macker host city will join 50 current members of the Hall of Fame.
“They are a very deserving group,” said McNeal said. “Geographically and in terms of popularity of our tournaments, at least in recent years, it’s a really good fit because it includes three groups that represent three of our most popular and unique events, and then you have the great dunker in Basil and the heart of Macker represented in a great guy like Tony.”
The Hall of Fame originated in the garage in Lowell, and the first formal induction of the 25 greatest Mackers was in 1998 during the 25th anniversary celebration of Gus Macker, including Dick and Bonnie McNeal, the parents of co-founders Scott and Mitch McNeal. Each five years since another class has been added.
The Gus Macker phenomenon started in 1974 in the McNeal Lowell driveway, moved to Belding in 1987 as a single event, exploded to almost 5,000 teams for one weekend and evolved into a national tour. This year’s tour visits 35 cities across the country, including 12 in Michigan.
The 479 teams in Belding this year is an increase over 2017, and is a record for the home tournament in the modern era. It is also the second largest Macker in the country this year, second only to Ludington, which had more than 800 teams this summer.
McNeal is elated with the increase in participation, the familiar faces that annually show in Belding, and also the efforts of 15 or more local non-profit charity groups involved. Those groups represent school teams, churches, the “B” Foundation (cancer charity), the Miss Belding Scholarship and others.
“Those groups will net about $10,000 by being involved, and they are groups mainly focused on youth in the community,” McNeal said. “All of our Mackers are community events, but in Belding we have more community groups than anywhere else, and such a diverse group of local organizations that make the tournament happen.”
Opening ceremonies are set for Saturday at 8 a.m. on Dream Court, which is at the corner of Bridge and Congress Streets. The Belding High School Band, sponsors, charity groups and more will be involved.
At 5 p.m. Saturday the Robroy Enclosures Dunk Contest will be presented on the Top Men’s Court at the corner of Bridge and Main Streets. A cash prize of $500 will be awarded.
Major local sponsors this year include Leppinks Food Center, Robroy Enclosures, Sparrow Hospital, Life EMS, the City of Belding and Candlestone Golf & Resort.
Also happening again this year is “Love Your Event,” which features over 20 arts and crafts booths creating a festival setting for families attending the Macker. Among the highlights are the Kid’s Tent that offers face painting, coloring and more.
On Sunday teams and families are invited for the Free Pancake Breakfast put on by the High School Project Graduation parents’ group. Complimentary pancakes, sausages, juice and coffee is served to the public and players from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the registration tent at the corner of Main and Bridge Streets.
Contact: Macker Basketball LLC, 107 E. Main Street - Suite 3, Belding, MI 48809, (616) 794-1445, www.macker.com, follow us on Facebook and Twitter