MORRIS – In the past couple of weeks, the area has been able to see a boys basketball shootout in Braidwood and a girls shootout in Morris.
Now, it’s time for the granddaddy of them all, the Morris Boys Shootout.
Morris was the one that started it all, with the first summer tournament played in 1986, a tourney that featured nationally-ranked champion Chicago King High School and its star player, Marcus Liberty. The Morris fieldhouse has seen plenty of famous names and faces since then, as legendary coaches Bobby Knight, Lou Henson, Jim Boeheim and Bill Self, among others, have graced the bleachers and future NBA players such as Liberty, Antoine Walker, Eddy Curry and Quentin Richardson have been on the court.
The two-day event begins Wednesday with pool play starting at 9 a.m. On Thursday, records from Wednesday will be used to divide the teams into the two 16-team brackets that will determine the tourney champion. The Maroon Tournament, which will be for the teams that finished third and fourth in their respective four-team pools, will begin at 8 a.m., with the title game tipping off at 3 p.m. The Gold Tournament, for the top two teams in each pool, starts at noon, with the title game slated for 7 p.m.
King has the most tourney championships with six, followed by Simeon with three. Edwardsville has won the last two titles and is one of five schools with two championships, along with Thornwood, O’Fallon, Warren and Whitney Young. The only local champion has been Seneca in 2005, which used the shootout as a springboard to its undefeated 2005-06 Class A state title.
This year’s field of 32 is another strong one, including defending two-time shootout champion Edwardsville. Volunteers – both parents and players – from the Morris basketball program will be manning the grills and concession stands, offering such delicacies as hot dogs and the famous Morris pork chop sandwiches.
The tournament also has some local flavor, with Morris, Minooka and Coal City, along with Bolingbrook, Plainfield Central and Plainfield North, taking part. Coal City and Morris will play at the same times on Wednesday. At 10 a.m., Coal City will take on Bolingbrook in the main gym, with Morris playing East Aurora on Fieldhouse Court 2. At noon, Morris plays Rockford Auburn in the main gym, with Coal City playing Ottawa on Fieldhouse Court 2. The two teams conclude their day at 2 p.m. as Morris takes on Morton on Fieldhouse Court 1 and Coal City plays Galesburg in Fieldhouse Court 3.
Minooka, meanwhile, starts its day at 4 p.m., taking on Edwardsville on Fieldhouse Court 1. At 6, the Indians will play Deerfield on Fieldhouse Court 2 before finishing with an 8 p.m. start against Bloomington Central Catholic, also in Fieldhouse Court 2.