ELKHART — The return of Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament drew hundreds of players and thousands of spectators to the parking lot of Woodland Crossing Shopping Center on West Hively Avenue this weekend.

“It is amazing. We’re having fun; we had a lot of families and a lot of teams,” said Scott Matthews, a Gus Macker committee member and pastor at River Oaks Community Church.

He said 91 teams came out, some traveling from other Midwestern states, along with more than 2,000 spectators. Saturday set the high mark for attendance, he said, because some teams were eliminated before Sunday.

“Saturday was awesome. We had great weather. Today is a little tough, but we still have a great turnout, great atmosphere,” he said Sunday.

The tournament, he said, featured a wide spectrum of talent.

“You have kids who are in travel leagues, AAU, all the way up to guys who used to play college ball,” he said. “People from all over Elkhart come together to watch their kids play (and) support their husbands who think they can still play.”

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese had the first shot of the tournament on Saturday.

Organizers made sure to give attendees a chance to learn about local organizations that can be helpful. According to Matthews, Lifeline Ministries, Elkhart Public Library, RETA, Church Community Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters were represented and had a chance to give people information about their services.

“What’s amazing about this is you’ve got a hodgepodge of everybody coming together, so it’s just fun,” he said.

Matthews hopes that the Gus Macker tournament will be an annual event in Elkhart because of its positive impact on the community.

“Anybody I talked to was like, ‘We need to have this every year.’ Because it brings so many people from so many different walks of life together under one roof for one thing, and it’s just amazing,” he said.

Gus Macker event manager Bill Gorman said the organization is about making the world a better place.

“And you can see how happy everybody is,” he said.

Forty percent of the proceeds from the tournament will benefit charities, according to Gorman. Matthews said SPA Women’s Ministry Homes and Guidance Ministries were chosen this year.

Rain on Sunday forced organizers to speed up the games for the safety of the players, he said, but the conditions didn’t seem to deter people too much.

“The Elkhart community, Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend area, comes out,” he said. “The local organizers here have just been phenomenal to work with. We’re looking forward to coming back for many years to come.”

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus

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