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Macker tourney adds free-throw contest between Callahan, Helland

Published: Saturday, June 1, 2013 5:00 a.m. CDT
(Herald Photo by Christina Chapman-Van Yperen)
A new addition to the Gus Macker 3-on-3 tournament in Morris will be a free throw contest between Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland, left, and Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan. Callahan will also be taking the Do or Die Shot.

Bad weather is usually the Gus Macker player’s worst nightmare during the annual basketball tournament, but it may be Sheriff Kevin Callahan’s savior today, Saturday June 1.

“If I lose to Jason, I can blame it on the wind and weather conditions,” said Callahan Friday, in anticipation of today’s free throw contest in which he is competing against Jason Helland, Grundy County state’s attorney.

This weekend is the 11th annual Gus Macker 3-on3 basketball tournament held in the streets of downtown Morris and run by the Morris Downtown Development Partnership. This year, about 246 teams are registered to play, which is about 30 teams fewer than last year.

In the past 10 years, the MDDP has given more than $97,000 back to community organizations that have assisted with the tournament. This year, 10 volunteer groups are assisting, said MDDP Executive Director Julie Applegate, including the Christian Youth Center - Morris, which is a new group this year.

The free-throw contest is a new addition to this year’s festivities that was brought up by Helland, said Applegate.

“We are always excited for new events at the tournament,” she said.

Both Helland and Sheriff Callahan have basketball backgrounds, Callahan playing in adult intramural leagues, as well as in Gus Macker in the past, and Helland playing some in grade and high school.

“But I am not a good free throw shooter and anyone who ever played against me could attest to that,” said Callahan. “If he’s been practicing, he probably has an advantage over me.”

Callahan will also take the “Do or Die” shot to kick off the tournament at 8 a.m. today.

The free throw contest will be at 9 a.m. The sheriff and state’s attorney will be competing for a trophy.

Helland said he has been practicing some in preparation for the face off, but he tried to offer an alternative — a slightly shortened hoop for a dunking contest.

“I asked for a dunking contest on an 8.5 foot hoop, but they said they couldn’t lower the hoop,” he said with a laugh.

Callahan said — at 8.5 feet — he would have taken the win on that contest.

Helland predicts he will make half of his free throw shots. During practice, he said, he always at least hits the rim.

“I plan on having a good time. It’s a good family-orientated event,” he said.

No matter who wins, the local officials are looking forward to the event.

“It should be fun,” said the sheriff.

If the free-throw competition is a hit, Applegate said MDDP will look at making it an annual event, either between the same contestants, if they are willing, or maybe some other well-known Grundy County officials.

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