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It's tournament time in Martinsburg

June 20, 1999

Macker CoachBy BRYN MICKLE / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photos: MARLA BROSE / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - They might have been headed for the "Toilet Bowl," but being in the losers' bracket didn't dampen the mood Sunday for Sean Lore and Eric Gladden at the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament at the Martinsburg Mall parking lot.

"We came to play some basketball. This is the only place you can get some good competition and test your skills," said Lore, whose team finished with a 1-2 record.

Lore and Gladden, both of Martinsburg, were among the 1,200 contestants on hand for the sixth annual Gus Macker.

Spread across 25 courts outside the J.C. Penney store at the mall, players on 312 teams from around the Tri-State area shot jumpers, chased rebounds and drove to the basket.

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There was also the requisite amount of finger pointing that usually accompanies the tournament.

Whether it was a foul that wasn't called or a teammate questioning why his partner shot instead of passed, this year's Gus Macker was not lacking the level of intensity that has become expected at the tournament.

Heart and SoulGus Macker tradition calls for players to police their own games, but tournament organizer Steve Catlett said that just isn't possible for the younger children or the older "top" players.

"It just gets too rough and physical," said Catlett, the executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Department.

To help keep things from getting out of hand, Catlett said the tournament uses volunteer "Gusbusters" to settle any disagreements.

A few skirmishes led to the early exit of some players and spectators, but the ejections were nothing out of the ordinary, said Catlett.

"You get this many people in one place and you're going to have some problems. Everybody's playing hard to win," said Catlett.

Cooler temperatures at this year's tournament helped to put people in a better mood, Catlett said.

Unlike past years when the temperature hovered in the 90s with high humidity, Catlett said the overcast skies were a welcome relief.

"The Lord turned on the air conditioner for us," Catlett said.

The low temperatures helped make things easier for the medical staff that has had to handle its share of heat-related injuries at past tournaments, Martinsburg City Hospital nurse Dave Ahern said.

About 70 people were injured during the weekend's games with most of the casualties taking the form of twisted ankles or cuts and scrapes from the asphalt parking lot, Ahern said.

This year marked the first time the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Department joined the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce as co-sponsor for the tournament, Catlett said.

The Chamber of Commerce started bringing the tournament to Martinsburg in 1993 as a fund-raiser and way to promote the area.

"This is a great community event," Catlett said. "It brings a lot of people out to watch the action."

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