Macker mania arrives early

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2002

Two hundred and seventy-five teams, 22 courts, two days.

It could only be one thing.

It’s time for the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Jam.

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The annual festival of hoops, the seventh in Albert Lea, is this Saturday and Sunday at the Northbridge Mall parking lot.

The event is being held considerably earlier than in previous years and, according to Northbridge Marketing Director Pam Folkens, that’s probably a good thing.

&uot;We’ve always had hot, dry weather in July, and it’s supposed to be nice this weekend,&uot; said Folkens. &uot;It’s probably why the numbers are up, because of the timing in the summer.&uot;

The 275 teams is 12 more than last year and the most ever for an Albert Lea Gus Macker. They range in age from 10 to seniors, competing in divisions based on age and ability.

&uot;It’s basketball for everybody,&uot; said Dennis Dieser, the event’s chairperson. &uot;The Top Men’s court is very competitive. There are some top-notch players in it and they take basketball very seriously.&uot;

But mostly it’s for fun, and Folkens invites anyone who has never been to a Gus Macker to check it out.

&uot;It’s great basketball,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s fun to watch. You can watch the girls, you can watch the boys, you can watch the older guys who really get into it. It’s very organized, it’s very fair, they have pretty strict rules. It’s really a great family sporting event. It’s fun basketball.&uot;

There’s also a carnival-like atmosphere, with a public address announcer keeping everyone informed of what’s happening when and where, and food stands. There are individual skills contests including a slam dunk competition &045; provided enough people sign up. The slam dunk contest is usually on Sunday, according to Dieser, with the time to be determined.

&uot;It’s just a great community event,&uot; said Dieser.

The Albert Lea Family Y is again sponsoring the Mini-Macker in conjunction with the Gus Macker. As of Wednesday, there were six teams of 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds registered.

The opening ceremonies are set for 8 a.m. Saturday, with games tipping off at 8:30 and continuing throughout the day. It concludes Sunday afternoon.