Slam-Fest focuses on community

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Playground basketball enthusiasts get ready.

It's just about time for Slam-Fest.

The 17th annual edition of Cape Girardeau's popular outdoor basketball tournament will take place Saturday and Sunday at Indian Park.

"We're looking forward to another great event," said Stafford Moore Jr., one of the tournament directors.

Slam-Fest 2008 officially begins at 7 p.m. Friday with a gospel concert at Indian Park. The concert is free and open to the public.

The basketball, also free, will tip off at about 9 a.m. Saturday.

Play will begin Sunday at around the same time, with the championship scheduled for approximately 4:30 p.m.

"The basketball should be very good, like it always is," Moore said.

But Moore emphasized that, despite the impressive basketball talent that competes annually, the event is about more than hoops.

The tournament raises money for the House of Prayer Educational Youth Domestic Center and other youth organizations that use the facility.

There will be refreshment booths, carnival games and contests for youngsters, and entertainment by local and regional choirs, in addition to the basketball games.

"This year we're making it more about the community," Moore said. "We're looking forward to showing the appreciation and the support we've had for the last 17 years.

"The basketball is still the centerpiece, but we'll have a lot of events for the youth, a lot of games, contests, things like that. There will be plenty of opportunity for people to pray. We're just trying to help the community, renew the faith in the community."

The tournament always features at least a few former college standouts.

Tri-City, featuring players from Columbia, Mo., and the Cairo-Mounds area of Southern Illinois, is the defending champion and will be back to try to repeat.

Former University of Missouri players Albert White and James Douglas helped Tri-City come out of the losers bracket to capture last year's title in the double-elimination event.

Tri-City posted 48-45 and 50-41 victories over Flye's All-Stars -- consisting primarily of players from the New Madrid area -- to claim the crown.

White, who in the 1998-99 season led Missouri with a 16.3 scoring average and still plays professionally overseas, was the 2007 Slam-Fest MVP.

For the second straight year Slam-Fest is being held in late September instead of late August, when it took place for the first 15 years of its existence.

Moore said last year's date change was implemented to satisfy the wishes of teams and spectators who wanted to avoid the heat and humidity.

Moore said tournament organizers contemplated moving this year's event back to August, but the city was working on Indian Park, which ruled out that possibility.

Consideration will be given to returning Slam-Fest to its original time frame next year, which Moore believes will increase the amount of spectators and teams.

"We think it would be better to have it earlier again, because most peoples' mindset had it being in August. That's what they were used to," Moore said. "But it was still a success and it should be a success again this year."

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