Basketball Takes Over Downtown Norwich

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Jul 10, 2009 at 11:23 PM EDT

More than 17 hundred athletes will be dribbling on the streets of downtown Norwich this weekend.

The 14th annual Gus Macker Basketball Tournament tips off Saturday morning.

But as Action News reporter Erik Burling tells us, the community is already buzzing with activity.

East Main Street in Norwich is being transformed into basketball headquarters.

Basketball courts are taking over for the Gus Macker 3 on 3 basketball tournament.

More than 450 teams will be shooting for a championship.

"The whole town shuts down and it's like the county fair is coming," said Scott McNeal, owner of the Gus Macker Basketball Tournament.

"Teams have been practicing for weeks. There's the anticipation of just the excitement closing down a city street with 35 baskets," said Jamey Mullen, executive director of the Norwich YMCA.

On the street will be basketball players young and old.

Ranging in age from 7 to 60 years old.

"The tournament is full of flavor and fun. Right now I'm standing on the Dream Court. When teams get to play here they're introduced as they enter the court. And the game is announced over a speaker system," said Action News reporter Erik Burling.

Bringing some of the younger, forgotten stars into the spotlight.

"Over a little court just like that," said McNeal.

Scott McNeal, better known as 'The Gus Macker', started the tournament in 1973 in his mother's driveway.

"After four or five years we decided we're going to have to put a court or two in the street because we can't get all the games in. So, two courts became five and ten," said McNeal.

The tournament now touches all parts of the country.

Garf's Deli says this is the busiest weekend of the year in Norwich.

"It's going to be crazy in here. It's going to be non-stop constant lines out both doors," said Matt Finch of Garf's Deli.

More than 10,000 fans are expected to take in the action and entertainment.

The tournament is a fundraiser for the Norwich YMCA.

It expects to raised about $10,000

Games begin Saturday morning and wrap up Sunday evening.

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