KEARNEY — There will still be basketball in Kearney this weekend, just not as much as usual.
Doug Koster, founder and organizer of the Mr. Basketball Invitational and Miss Basketball Showcase tournaments, canceled both events this year but has said the Kearney Senior All-Star Games will go on as scheduled Sunday at the UNK Health and Sports Center with the girls game at 6:30 p.m. and the boys game to follow.
“Due to the devastating flood that has crippled our lodging partners, the 24th Annual Miss Basketball Showcase has been cancelled,” Koster posted on the Mr. Basketball Inc. Twitter account.
Last week, he canceled the Mr. Basketball Invitational because not enough teams entered to have a quality event.
“We ran into a mix of other tournaments in the region and the Fourth of July being a travel day. ... That was the first one in 400 events we didn’t have enough teams,” said Koster, who runs similar tournaments in other states as well as numerous younger-age tournaments throughout the year in the Kearney area.
When Koster started the tournament 28 years ago, it drew teams from Oklahoma, Chicago and Minneapolis, but at the time it was one of a handful of summer tournaments.
Facilities — the UNK Health and Sports Center was fairly new — helped draw in those teams.
Now, Koster said, “Every major metropolitan area has the facilities to host these kind of events.. ... We used to be ideal, now less than ideal,” he said.
Last year’s tournament drew heavily from the Denver area, which resulted in teams playing teams they’ve seen in other tournaments throughout the year.
“There’s no reason to drive five hours to play same teams,” he said
This year’s Miss Basketball Showcase had 38 teams entered from Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Iowa — two more than participated in last year’s tournament. The majority of those teams were close enough they could have driven in Friday morning before play began. However, many would have had to find lodging in Grand Island or Hastings, which would have detracted from the tournament experience.