Shooting for Jaca glory
THE 44th edition of the Jacaranda Basketball Carnival is set to be the biggest yet, with 56 teams nominated for the annual highlight of the local basketball fraternity's calendar.
The carnival, which is being held this weekend at the Grafton Indoor Sports Centre, boasts prizemoney of $6100 and has attracted teams from as far afield as Sydney and Brisbane and everywhere in between, association president Patrick Hagan says.
"We have men's and women's competitions with A, B and C grades, as well as a veterans' comp to cater to every basketballer's level," Hagan said.
"The prizemoney isn't bad, but I think the main reason people come back is for the social catch-up each year.
"It has stood the test of time for that reason alone, I think," he said.
A strong local contingent of teams will line up against the visiting players, who number more than 500 and have booked out every motel in town.
"It's a terrific economic boost for the whole town," Hagan said.
"We never have any trouble, and while the games are played nice and hard on the court, there is a really great spirit amongst the teams off the court."
With all four courts at the Sports Centre jam-packed with basketball action from 8am to 8pm tomorrow, the organisers have turned to the local high school to provide an extra court to get through all the games.
"McCauley College is actually building a new gym facility in the near future, so we hope to be able to accommodate even more teams in coming years," Hagan said. "There is that much interest in the carnival that I wouldn't be surprised if we could get 80 teams here for a weekend."
While the Sydney-based Entertainers won the A-grade championship last year, Hagan is predicting a wide open affair in all divisions this year.
The A-grade women's grand final will be played at 3.15pm on Sunday, with the men's A-grade match to be decided from 4.15pm.
Hagan, who is a regular of the Old Boys Vikings outfit, might also be pulling on the singlet for the George Street Brewery team, which features a number of his former teammates from around the state.
"That's the beauty of the carnival, you never quite know who you'll bump into until you get on to the court."