In about an hour -- at 6 p.m. tonight -- The News team will be going at it in the Gus Macker Corporate Challenge.
The real Macker is Saturday and Sunday, but on Friday local companies hoop it up. We are scheduled to take on Cricket Wireless at 6 on the main courts at the New Era Cap Co. headquarters on Delaware Ave. High school sports partner Mary Jo Monnin and I will be joined by reporter Jay Skurski and contributor Nate Beutel.
Let's just say The News doesn't have a great track record in the event -- although I'm sure I will talk about last year's historic victory over WKBW Ch. 7 until the day I die. I'll update the blog with the perhaps-gory details later.
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In other news, Thursday night I was a guest on Officially Yours on WECK (1230 AM) and we talked about the Tom Borrelli Memorial Award (and upcoming golf tournament on July 27), the 2011-12 high school sports year in review and what's in store for football this fall. Listen to the show here.
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Macker update: As always, the Macker is a blast just to get on the court and see lots of familiiar faces -- from players to ex-players to officials, coaches and administrators. And yes, it's still a blast after we go 0-2.
We have a lot of experience at that (three times in the last four years, with last year's tremendous victory over WKBW Ch. 7 growing more legendary by the sentence.
We hung in there against Cricket, starting strong but falling in a respectable, 9-6 loss in which some tall, long, skilled dude posterized us with a driving dunk down the lane. Nice. I tried to stay out of the poster but I don't think it worked. Thankfully we did not assign a News photographer for today's events.
Speaking of taking pictures, Mary Jo Monnin asked a bystander to take a team picture of us after the game. The bystander? Mayor Byron Brown. No kidding. He was a good sport and all four of us are in frame. Mark that down on the Brown administration's accomplishment list (just having a little fun, Mr. Mayor).
Our loser's bracket game was against one of the three teams representing title sponsor Toyota. It started great for the News as Skurski delivered a sweet pass to me across the middle for a driving layup. Pretty.
Things definitely were not so pretty from then on in what would be an 8-3 loss. It was a foul-filled affair thanks in large part to two guys who were living, breathing, hacking, yapping reasons never to buy a Toyota. I proudly earned a double foul against one of them, who from his whining apparently didn't like getting cleanly boxed out. I also non-proudly contributed at least two turnovers and a travel.
At one point, in between their whining at the volunteer refs, one of the yappers offered a prepubescent, "don't be mad you're losing." This, from a squad that had their female player play the first three minutes (Macker corporate challenge rules require teams to play their female a minimum of three minutes) of the game then left her on the bench the rest of the way. She could play, too. She had a rebound and a putback. I hope Toyota treats its female employees better back at the workplace! Baddump-bump.
In contrast, we had our three-guys-and-a-female rotation going throughout the game. Against Cricket, we subbed our female when they subbed theirs, and vice versa in what was a hard-fought but clean Macker game. At this point I'd rather buy a car from Cricket. :-)
But again, it was definitely fun. Mary Jo had some nice steals, Beutel grabbed rebounds and set textbook screens he'll be showing his Grand Island troops in practice next season (he's their boys hoops coach), and Skurski provided some great (and much-needed) offense.
The rain held off and hopefully will stay away this weekend for what is a great festival of hoops -- Buffalo's Macker is the largest in the nation. I'm hoping to catch some of the action Saturday and Sunday.
And we'll definitely be back. There's always next year.
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