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Game on: Tournaments set to play

Chad Frey
The Kansan

The McPherson City Commission approved a pair of visitor attraction grants to McPherson High School on behalf of the convention and visitor's bureau this week — $1,000 each to help fund basketball tournaments at the roundhouse. 

McPherson's Jayton Alexander (12) shoots over Buhler's Ethan Stambaugh (22)  in action earlier this season. The McPherson City Commission approved a pair of visitor attraction grants to McPherson High School on behalf of the convention and visitor's bureau this week — $1,000 each to help fund basketball tournaments at the roundhouse.

It signals that the school intends to host the 57th annual McPherson Boys Basketball Invitational Tournament and e 26th Annual Mid America Classic Girls's Basketball Tournament later this month.

"They do a good job of not only supporting these tournaments in the pats, but they have supported volleyball and wrestling in the past," said Shane Backhus, activities director for McPherson High School. "I know they have a budget restriction as well. ... It is nice to get their support and they have been doing that for several years."

This year has been a struggle — Pandemic COVID-19 has led to changes in both tournaments.  

Fewer fans are expected — as restrictions for COVID-19 will dictate how many will be allowed in for each game. Making sure parents can see each game meant changing schedules to allow for more time between games. 

And, there will be fewer teams as well. For the boys tournament there are a total of four teams committed at this time. On the girls side, six. 

"On the boys side we had five schools out of the Kansas City area and their districts have imposes some COIVD travel restrictions," Backhus said. "They can not travel this far and stay overnight. That is similar for the girls side." 

With a reduction in teams, and the pandemic, the schedule of games and brackets have changed dramatically. For the girls, there will be "pool play" and the boys will head to a round-robin format rather than a double-elimination tournament. 

"We have spread out our playing times and games so teams do not have to stay overnight, and we have prevented as much cross over as we can," Backhus said. 

And they could change again. 

"We have all of our other COVID protocols in place that it feels like we have been using forever," Backhus said. "... It is fluid, and it feels like it will change everyday."

 The 57th annual McPherson Boys Basketball Invitational Tournament will have two game each day,  5 and 7 p.m. Jan. 21, 22 and 23.  Bracketing will be done Jan. 13. 

Teams coming to McPherson to compete will include Maize South, Shawnee Heights and Manhattan. 

The 26th Annual Mid America Classic  Girls's Basketball Tournament, at least at this time, will feature Dodge City, Manhattan, Valley Center, Wellington and Wichita-Southeast. 

"We will have two pools of three, and based on where you finish, will determine where you play Saturday," Backhus said.  

The tournament will be seeded on Jan. 20, with two games scheduled on Jan. 27, 28 and 29. Three games, including the tournament final, are scheduled to be contested on Jan. 30. 

"We will keep on going until we can't," Backhus said. "... I wish I had a crystal ball. Our plan is play games. Could it change if a team has to go into quarantine or another situation, yes."