Downtown Big Rapids becomes ‘Mackerville’ this weekend

The Big Rapids Cardinal will be welcoming Gus Macker to the downtown area this weekend. (File photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Rob Bentley and his daughter, Ava, are looking forward to another year of Big Rapids Gus Macker this Saturday and Sunday.

Bentley is Assistant Athletic Director of Communications at Ferris State, and also an avid basketball parent.

“My daughter, Ava is playing this weekend,” he said referring to the Big Rapids Macker in downtown Big Rapids. “She’s on a fifth-grade girls team in a division I think is made up of primarily fifth-sixth graders I believe. The other three girls on her team are friends. They have all played travel basketball together the last couple of years on a Big Rapids team and just enjoy playing the game. Last year, she played in a younger division that was mixed with boys and girls and had a fun experience.”

Several dozen fans are expected to watch the games.

“As a parent, we enjoy getting the opportunity to watch them play and it’s a neat experience being outside in downtown Big Rapids,” Bentley said. “I think it’s an awesome event for the community and we appreciate the efforts by those who help put this on. I played and helped run several similar 3-on-3 outdoor type tournaments during my high school and college days in Nebraska so it’s cool to have the chance for her to get the same type of experience here in Big Rapids and get out and enjoy the game. Hopefully the weather is nice and we are looking forward to it.”

It’s the 45th year of the Gus Macker 3-on-3 tour, started in 1974 when Scott McNeal, alias Gus, and his brother Mitch started the tournament in their Lowell driveway. Scott McNeal, who still runs Macker, with headquarters in Belding, is expected to be in Big Rapids at the event being managed by Big Rapids girls basketball coach Jessica Haist.

The team count is 140, which Haist said is up by 10 in the second season of a Big Rapids Macker.

The stretch of Michigan Avenue from Maple to Elm, will be set up for Macker courts on Friday. This is a change from last season when the courts were north of the Maple Street-Michigan Avenue Intersection. It’s the immediate block south of the intersection this year.

“We have 15 courts,” Haist said. “We have a top men’s court. We have a coed 8-and under court, which is kind of cool. You’ll see lower ages and younger kids. We have a pretty good variety of teams. There are 75 teams playing on the red courts, which are our youth courts. We’ve got 53 adult teams and 12 teams on the top men’s court.

Player registration is 4-7 p.m. on Friday and 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Opening ceremonies are 8 a.m. on Saturday on the top men’s court in front of JC Penny.

Competitive games are set for 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. There are also three special events set for Saturday: 3-point contests for all ages at 3 p.m., kids dunk contest, 11-and-under at 4:30 p.m., an adult dunk contest, all ages, at 6 p.m.

Top men and women divisions could include some former college players. Big Rapids assistant coaches Blake Thomas and Brennan Walsh are also expected to play.

“I was glad to see a good blend of men and women teams,” Haist said. “We have four all-female courts which is nice to see.”

Vendors and the medical tent will be on the adjacent men’s court.

avatar

Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply