The fifth annual Linden Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament is going to be the biggest ever when it begins action at Linden High School on June 22 and June 23.
For the second straight season Linden’s version of the world’s most famous 3-on-3 halfcourt basketball tournament will have more than 200 teams playing.
This year’s tournament, will host 223 teams in 19 different divisions, meaning there will be more than 850 athletes competing on those squads.
The event, organized and hosted by the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Linden Community Schools, anticipated the growth and moved its event from Linden Elementary School to the Linden High School to accommodate the growth.
Every year has seen growth.
The first year the nation’s most well-known 3-on-3 halfcourt basketball tournament hosted 128 teams at Hyatt Elementary School in 2015.
The second season grew to 146 and the third increased its numbers to 165. Last year, there was need to change venues due to the increasing size, so it was moved to Linden Elementary School, and the tournament attracted 208 teams. This year’s move to the Linden High School campus will see 15 more teams — approximately 60 more athletes — than last season.
“We always talked about moving it to the high school and it became a logistical thing,” Russ Ciesielski, Linden Community Schools superintendent, said. “It increases the amount of teams and the amount of spectators we can hold. We thought it was time to move because of the size and parking. Parking is a big aspect of it.”
“Our committee is really excited about the new location,” Shelly Day, Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director, said. “It is a good reason to move because of the growth of the tournament. We didn’t want to move, but with the growth we’ve had, we didn’t have a choice. This will be our final move because we have plenty of room for growth now, among the three campuses.”
About Gus Macker
Gus Macker is the brainchild of Gus Macker owner Scott MacNeal. MacNeal started the tournament in his own parent’s driveway among friends to create his own version of March Madness. That event of 17 friends quickly grew and McNeal, who earned the nickname Gus Macker in junior high, quickly grew into the largest 3-on-3 tournaments in the country. Gus Macker’s logo of a smiling basketball holding or dribbling a red, white and blue basketball while wearing a black top-hot is readily recognized by most playground basketball enthusiasts.
Tournaments are played with competitors placed in as equally as possible divisions based on gender, experience and age. The halfcourt games are played up to 15 points with regular baskets scoring one point and three-pointers scoring two points. A team must win by two points. There is a time limit to games as well.
Squads can have three players on the court at one time, but most teams have four players with the fourth subbing in and out during the contests. Trophies are given out to winning teams and a Toilet Bowl trophy is distributed to the winning team of the game featuring the two most losing squads in a division. It’s another Gus Macker tradition. Linden’s tournament consists of 19 divisions this season.
About Linden’s Gus Macker
Team registration begins June 21 at Linden Middle School from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., and registrations continue from 7 a.m until noon on Saturday as well. The opening ceremonies begin at 8 a.m. with games beginning at 8:30 a.m. on June 22 and 8 a.m. on June 23. There are other activities as well, including a slam dunk contest at 5 p.m. on June 22.
Many of the teams competing in the Linden Gus Macker are from Linden or neighboring areas. There are many children divisions as well.
However, the event attracts athletes and families from all around the state in all age groups.
There is a Kids’ Zone as well during both days — a place where children who aren’t participating in the basketball can hav some recreation.
“We’re one of the very few Gus Macker events to offer a Kids’ Zone,” said Dawn Placek of Legacy Realty, a sponsor of the event. “It’s a draw for families to come to the Gus Macker in Linden. People tell us how much they like our event.”
The zone includes a bounce house, face painting, games and other activities.
“It’s like an event inside an event,” Day said.
The presenting sponsors are Dr. Wax Orthodontics, Brad Hoffman Insurance Agency Inc and Rock Foundations.
“I’m really excited about it,” said Linda Hathaway, co-chairperson of the Gus Macker and owner of Brad Hoffman Insurance Agency. “I look at the demographics of the players, their parents and grandparents and I see that our investment in Gus Macker is much longer-lasting than the actual event. It’s wonderful to share the expense with the other Presenting Sponsors and it’s an honor to be part of this awesome family event that impacts a lot of lives.”