January 20 2004

[b]Lines from Lucy [/b]

Posted by Kim
Invitational attracts fans
by Lucy Halverson
The 36th Jones County Invitational basketball tournament, the longest continuously running invitational tournament in the state ended Saturday night. It was a monumental night for the Lyman Raiders, tournament champions for the second year in a row.

While two tournament championships in two years is a first for the Raiders, it's just another statistic for the tournament organizers to add to their record book. Lyman is not the first school to win back-to-back championships, Bennett Co, White River, Wessington Springs, and Midland have done it in the past. Stanley Co. is the only team with the distinction of winning three years in a row.

For 36 years area basketball teams and fans have traveled to Murdo to watch 3 days of outstanding high school ball. Lyman ballplayers and fans have not always participated as there have been years, Lyman didn't play in the tournament.

The gym in Murdo is not large nor does it offer comfortable seating but it doesn't seem to matter to basketball fans. Year after year, the fans pack the bleachers. Bleachers on the stage actually broke under the weight of the crowd Saturday night. The seats were cleared, extra support added, and since there was no place else to sit, a small number of students were allowed to return.

It doesn't matter if its 20 below or 20 above outside, when the intensity of the ball game starts to rise, so does the temperature inside in gym. Fans sit shoulder-to-shoulder, knee to back, and yet cheer for their favorite team. An excellent concession stand is offered, but fans risk losing their seat by making a trip out of the gym for a popcorn or drink.

How does a tournament maintain its popularity with teams and fans for 36 years? The people of the Murdo community deserve much of the credit. From the organizers who select the teams to the folks who cook and serve the concessions, a favorable reputation developed years ago that is up held year after year. Another factor is the caliber of the officials. Most have state tournament experience and some travel 2 to 3 hours to work this tournament year after year.

The 2004 Jones Co. Tournament was as good as always; especially for the Lyman players and fans who celebrated another championship. Hopefully, our repeat title of tournament champions doesn't cost us an invitation to the 2005 tournament. After all, we'd like a chance to tie Stanley County's record for the title of champions three years in a row!

Theme by Xen