Ottawa YMCA membership and marketing director Kelly Peterson says that she never has much of a problem getting teams from Morris in the YMCA's annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which includes boys and girls from grades 5-8.
Peterson said that a lot of the teams that compete in Ottawa's tournament, which took place on March 17, also play at Gus Macker in Morris. To them, competing in Ottawa is a good way to get prepared.
"I think having Gus Macker in Morris, kids use this to get together their team before getting together [at Gus Macker]," Peterson said. "I think that kind of helps the two tournaments kind of play off each other."
This past tournament was the fourth annual 3-on-3 event in Ottawa, which had no problem drawing players from around the Grundy County area.
"It's surprising what a wide variety of places we get teams from. Every year we're like, 'we got a team from here, we got a team from there,' " Peterson said. "We've got them as far as Braidwood, Somonauk, Sheridan. Newark, we usually have quite a good showing from. Morris and Ottawa we usually get quite a few teams from."
This year, two Morris teams took home titles.
In the 5th-6th grade boys division, the team of Hunter Greve, Connor Greve, Garrett Dillon and Aurelius Lennon-Rios got second. Both Greves are from Morris while Dillion is from Newark and Lennon-Rios from Seneca.
"The first game we started off slow but after that we really found our groove," Hunter Greve said. "We work well together. We've been playing together for several years. We ended up coming in second overall."
In the 7th-8th grade girls division, the team of Leona Burton, Amanda Grant, Jessica Jurak and Devin Pachero won the title. All four members of the team are from Morris.
Peterson admits that part of the reason that the tournament was started is because of the popularity of Morris' Gus Macker event, which takes place on the streets of downtown Morris each June.
"We actually started four years ago, this is the fourth tournament," Peterson said. "It kind of came about because coach Craig Shymanski (who coaches at Shepard Middle School in Ottawa) and myself, we started talking about how it would be great if we could have a 3-on-3 event here in town. Morris has Gus Macker and it's really popular."
This year more and more teams flocked to Ottawa's 3-on-3 event, as the YMCA's 2011 event set a record for participation.
"We had the most teams that we’ve ever had this year, and we had to turn away quite a few teams," Peterson said. "That's the sad thing."
"I really like this tournament. You get to see a lot of talent in one day and we go up against a lot of different teams from all over," Connor Greve said. "It's really competitive and that's my favorite part."