Time Out: August 10, 2011

Mariah Ruff or Eric Reed would have been in three-point heaven. Every time a shot behind the arc swished through the nets, water splashed from the twines in a several foot, circular, aerial display. It was basketball like it’s never been played before.

This past weekend was my fourth annual excursion to the Avoca 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, the 10th year of the tourney. The Avoca Tournament is my favorite off-season basketball venue, the end result of a small town working together using the sport of basketball to raise funds to support local causes in the name of a fallen hero, Frankie Rundell. Frankie was an Avoca basketball star of yesteryear lost to his community in an automobile accident.

Streets are closed
The tournament is an outdoor event with part of Main Street blocked off to create eight half- court basketball-playing surfaces where action in at least seven different divisions takes place. The street is swept, portable courts are moved in, lines are painted, and before you know it basketballs are in the air.

Each year we speculate what might happen if it rains. On the Friday night before the tournament we travel to my camp at Goodhue Lake in Addison, for some swimming, some grilling, an overnight stay and the anticipation of a Saturday jam packed with basketball.

We awoke to a dismal gray day with falling rain on Saturday. This was a soaking rain and showed little promise of giving way to sunshine. With a call to the tournament Director Bill Collmer, we learned it was only drizzling in Avoca and registration would commence as planned.

The skies opened up
The drizzle became a downright torrential downpour at times, but the tournament moved forward. It was a surreal basketball event watching basketball played in the rain. At times the referees camped under the baskets beneath giant umbrellas. The basketballs became waterlogged with more air balls launched that you would see in a dry weather game. The guys and girls were drenched.

I could barely believe my ears when I heard my own voice informing our guys that in some cases there was nothing wrong with a forfeit. In my opinion, this was one of those cases. Injuries were my biggest fear. The thought of a guy pulling a groin or tearing a ligament in the knee was harrowing. The guys would have none of it.

No injuries reported
Amazingly, there were no injuries. The rain soaked courts tempered risk-taking, with players sometimes almost tip-toeing their way around the court. There were few hard-nosed drives to the hoop. Minus the scrapes that come with playing basketball on an outdoor court in any weather, we escaped unscathed.

An added bonus of our annual western basketball sojourn is our Addison basketball teammates. Three summers past, two of our local guys who had committed to play in Avoca called on the morning we were heading west to let us know they were would not be making the trip.

Can’t find replacements
The late calls made finding replacements impossible. We had guys in two divisions, and I told the remaining gang they would have to forfeit in one of the classes unless they could find a local kid who was willing to play. I dropped them off at Addison’s outdoor courts and wished them luck.
Two hours later, I met P. J. Povoski, a local Addison kid who joined our team the following day. Last summer P. J. asked if his younger brother Jordan could play. P. J. and Jordan are now regulars on our roster. Despite the rain, after our team was eliminated on Saturday, rain soaked and waterlogged, our gang was plotting to bring home the trophy next year.