MORRIS – One of the sure signs of summer over the years has been the Morris Boys Basketball Shootout, held at the Morris Community High School main gym and field house.
COVID-19 restrictions caused last year’s event to be canceled, but with the state reopening, this year’s event is ready to go. The 32-team shootout begins Wednesday with pool play and will conclude Thursday with bracket play. Each team is guaranteed five games over the two days in the event, which will be held for the 35th time.
“The Morris Shootout is always one of the premiere events in the state and (Morris coach and event director Joe Blumberg) and his staff do a great job,” said Ottawa coach Mark Cooper. “We’ve been going there throughout my whole tenure at Ottawa and it’s always one of the highlights of our summer.
“It’s a good recognition tool, especially for the Division II-, Division III- and NAIA-caliber players. It’s changed because of the live recruiting periods available over the year in terms of the Division I being able to attend, but it’s a great event for having that level of athlete get exposure, the chance for colleges of all levels to see.”
Games begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, with action taking place on all three field house basketball courts and in the main gym. Games will begin every hour the rest of the day, with the final four games tipping off at 8 p.m.
“We’re looking to expose our kids to top-tier talent, top-tier teams this summer because we feel like can have a successful season and be competitive,” said Streator coach Beau Doty, whose club has already played in one quality shootout at Lincoln 10 days ago. “We try to play an upper echelon schedule so when we play the Ottawas and the Washingtons of the world, at the premiere 3A-4A shootout at St. Joe-Ogden in January or get into the winners bracket at the tough tournaments at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we won’t be shocked at what we see.
“Hopefully, we’ll have competed well, competed hard and continue to grow from the (Morris) experience.”
As usual, the field is strong, with teams heading in from all over the state. However, Blumberg said organizers have tried to limit the number of teams that had a long way to travel.
“The field is probably not as loaded as years past,” Blumberg said. “Some administrators are not letting teams travel or stay overnight. Some just didn’t feel confident committing under uncertain circumstances.
“About a month ago, I put together a field of 24 with conference, Region 2 and 30-mile-radius schools. Some didn’t meet that criteria and went elsewhere, and rightfully so. Burlington Central, Riverside-Brookfield, Lake Zurich, Lake Park and Belleville West are examples of that.
“As much as we try to get the best programs from around the state, the feeling from coaches this summer is, ‘We just want to get back in the gym and play – it doesn’t matter who, when or where.’ "
Spectators are allowed at the event, and vaccinated fans do not need to wear masks. The cost to attend is $5 for a wristband that will permit entry all day. No concession stand will be available, but the city of Morris approved the BBQ and Baker food truck to be on-site selling food both days.
Blumberg said the shootout will still use Corleone’s, Maria’s and Turtle’s for hospitality room food and encourages teams to visit those places on their way out of town or overnight.
“Not knowing what the Phase 5 guidelines were going to be, we wanted to make sure we had an option for the athletes,” Blumberg said.
Teams are grouped into eight four-team pools. Morris is in group A with Bolingbrook, Normal West and Bloomington Central Catholic. Group B includes East Aurora, Minooka, Normal Community and Streator. Group C features Galesburg, Oak Forest, Oswego and Pontiac, and group D teams are Ottawa, Plainfield Central, Providence Catholic and Washington. These pools will play in the early session, with groups A and B playing at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and groups C and D playing at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.
The late session will feature group E with DeKalb, Kankakee, Morton and Plainfield North; group F with Danville, Dundee-Crown, Plano and Normal U-High; group G with Collinsville, Neuqua Valley, Prairie Central and South Elgin; and group H with Kaneland, Lockport, Plainfield East and Waubonsie Valley.
Records within each pool will determine seeds for Thursday’s bracket play. If two teams have the same record in a pool, head-to-head will be used to break the tie. If three teams have the same record, fewest points allowed in the three pool play games will be used as the tiebreaker.
Day 1 schedule
* MG = main gym; FH1 = field house court 1; FH2 = field house court 2; FH3 = field house court 3. First team listed will be home team on the scoreboard wearing white or lighter-colored jerseys.
9 a.m.: MG – Bolingbrook vs. Normal West; FH1 – Bloomington Central Catholic vs. Morris; FH2 – East Aurora vs. Minooka; FH3 – Normal vs. Streator
10 a.m.: MG – Galesburg vs. Oak Forest; FH1 – Oswego vs. Pontiac; FH2 – Ottawa vs. Plainfield Central; FH3 – Providence Catholic vs. Washington
11 a.m.: MG – Minooka vs. Streator; FH1 – Bolingbrook vs. Bloomington Central Catholic; FH2 – Normal West vs. Morris; FH3 – East Aurora vs. Normal
Noon: MG – Plainfield Central vs. Washington; FH1 – Galesburg vs. Oswego; FH2 – Oak Forest vs. Pontiac; FH3 – Ottawa vs. Providence Catholic
1 p.m.: MG – East Aurora vs. Streator; FH1 – Minooka vs. Normal; FH2 – Bolingbrook vs. Morris; FH3 – Normal West vs. Bloomington Central Catholic
2 p.m.: MG – Ottawa vs. Washington; FH1 – Plainfield Central vs. Providence Catholic; FH2 – Galesburg vs. Pontiac; FH3 – Oak Forest vs. Oswego
3 p.m.: MG – DeKalb vs. Kankakee; FH1 – Morton vs. Plainfield North; FH2 – Danville vs. Dundee-Crown; FH3 – Plano vs. Normal U-High
4 p.m.: MG – Collinsville vs. Neuqua Valley; FH1 – Prairie Central vs. South Elgin; FH2 – Kaneland vs. Lockport; FH3 – Plainfield East vs. Waubonsie Valley
5 p.m.: MG – Dundee-Crown vs. Normal U-High; FH1 – DeKalb vs. Morton; FH2 – Kankakee vs. Plainfield North; FH3 – Danville vs. Plano
6 p.m.: MG – Lockport vs. Waubonsie Valley; FH1 – Collinsville vs. Prairie Central; FH2 – Neuqua Valley vs. South Elgin; FH3 – Kaneland vs. Plainfield East
7 p.m.: MG – Danville vs. Normal U-High; FH1 – Dundee-Crown vs. Plano; FH2 – DeKalb vs. Plainfield North; FH3 – Kankakee vs. Morton
8 p.m.: MG – Kaneland vs. Waubonsie Valley; FH1 – Lockport vs. Plainfield East; FH2 – Collinsville vs. South Elgin; FH3 – Neuqua Valley vs. Prairie Central