It took eight tries and a little bit of assistance for "Do-or-Die" shooter Kim DesLauriers to make the shot kicking off the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament Saturday morning.
It's Gus Macker tradition for the "Do-or-Die" shot to be made before the tournament can begin, no matter how many shots it takes. DesLauriers, principal of Immaculate Conception School, decided to go with the granny-shot method and slowly made his way closer to the net with each try.
On his sixth try he was offered some assistance by a special guest of the tournament, Derek Perry, the stepfather of recently deceased Morris Community High School student and Gus Macker player Kyale Brown.
Perry hoisted DesLauriers in the air, allowing him a chance to slam dunk the ball. On the second try from Perry's shoulder, he made it. The crowd roared with applause, and DesLauriers made a run around the court high-fiving the spectators.
"I didn't have a choice, he's wife told me to," said Perry with a laugh, after the opening ceremony.
Prior to the "Do-or-Die" shot, Perry was asked to the court, along with two Gus Macker teammates of Brown and two friends of Abe Black for a moment of silence in memory of their loved ones. Both past Gus Macker players, Brown and Black passed away recently.
Brown died May 25. He was going to be a senior at Morris Community High School this year. Black, 22, died in March and was a Morris Community High School graduate.
Perry and Black's representatives were given flowers by Julie Applegate, executive director of Morris Downtown Development Partnership, which hosts Gus Macker annually.
Brown was planning on playing in the tournament this weekend. His friends and teammates were wearing T-shirts in his memory during the games.
"It brings me a lot of joy today because Kyale loved basketball so much. To see a lot of his friends and all these people out here to support, it feels really good," said Perry.
This is the 10th year for Gus Macker in Morris and 276 teams were scheduled to play. This is just a bit less than last year's 284 teams, which was tied for the record of total teams set in 2005.
In the past nine years, more than $92,000 has been raised and given back to community organizations, which have volunteers work the annual tournament. This weekend, 13 volunteer groups volunteered.
The groups are Morris High School PromFest, MCHS football and band; Immaculate Conception School Sports Committee; First United Methodist Church youth group; Operation: MOMS Cookies; Walker Epilepsy Foundation; Boy Scout Troop 469; Grundy Bank Caring Committee; Special Connections of Grundy County; Grundy County Republicans; and Grundy County Democrats.
This year was the first year Minooka Community High School students Keirli McLemen and Abbie Hoey of Team Petro played in Gus Macker.
"People always talk about it, and my sister and her friends always played when I was younger, and I watched," said McLemen.
The girls had been practicing for their first tournament and were prepared to play hard.
"(We just want) to work hard, try our best and win," McLemen said.
Destiny Cano and Rose Tibbott, eighth-graders of Morris, returned for the second year playing together. The team name is "The Wild Kards." Kard standing for the first names of the players Katlin Cap, Ashley Montanus, Rose Tibbott and Destiny Cano.
They admit their first year did not go well, but they practiced harder and were determined to play better this year, as they awaited their first game Saturday morning.
Tibbott was especially anxious to play against her two sisters, the three are triplets.
"We always play against each other. They beat us last year," she said.
"But we scrimmaged against them (recently) and we beat them twice," Cano added.
"Hopefully the third time is a charm," said Bonnie Cap, Katlin Cap's mother and the team sponsor.
The major sponsors for Gus Macker this year were Grundy Bank, ATI Physical Therapy, Cardinal Transport, Rezin Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, and Ortiz Eye and Hearing.