By Jon Young
HERMANSVILLE - There is signs of spring in the air, and none is more evident than the start of the 76th Annual Hermansville Gold Medal Tournament tonight.
Approximately 77 teams will take to the Hermansville Community Gym Center over the next 11 days to determine winners in 10 different classes.
"The weather is probably going to be just about right for us," said tournament manager Ray Bray. "It's good for the people to get out because they must have been locked in their house now for about four months with this weather; so we anticipate a lot of people coming out. We've got a good show."
The action gets underway tonight at 7 p.m. EDT, as Ebeling's Supermarket of Norway takes on the Bark River Broncos in a Class EE game. Following that match-up at 8 p.m., Hermansville Moonlight Graphic takes on Jim's Plumbing of Wallace.
At 9 p.m., Wangerin Logging of Stephenson squares off against Bob's Country Bar of Niagara.
The final game of the opening night is a Class E match-up that pairs LaBelle's Inn (Powers) against Money Ball of Bark River.
Bray said there isn't any noticeable changes to the tournament this year but did note that long time teams such as the the Stephenson Strollers and McNeil's Oilers (Crystal Falls) will be returning. The Strollers, who have four teams entered, have played in 76 straight Gold Medal tournaments. The Oilers are playing in their 51st straight Gold Medal tournament.
Also making a return after a year hiatus is the 2012 Class A champion BKP Logging of Hermansville, featuring a lineup comprised of former UW-Green Bay players. The 2013 Class A champion, Dickey's Barbecue of Green Bay is also returning.
The Class A division has four teams as of now, but Bray noted that there could be an addition before play on the weekend of April 11-12.
Also playing during the final weekend is the men's Class B division and the Women's division, which each feature six teams. Miss Basketball, Michigan State recruit, and Forest Park senior Lexi Gussert is a possibility for the McNeil's Oilers squad. Her availability will be known by Sunday.
The final weekend is also going to have an influx of youth basketball sprinkled into the mix as five junior high teams from around the area will play in-between the Class A and B games. Teams compromised of 7th and 8th graders from Carney-Nadeau, Bark River-Harris, Norway, North Central and Stephenson will take the court for double elimination play. The rest of the tournament will be single elimination play. There is also a junior high girls division that will play during the week.
Former Carney-Nadeau graduates Jason Boucher, Jake Polfus and Jared Benson are also teaming up for a run at the Class A title. Boucher currently plays professionally in Germany.
"We're looking forward to and anticipating a good 11 days of basketball," Bray said. "It's kind of a showcase for Hermansville. It's the little community club that they play in, it's not very big but everything you shoot goes in because the rims are loose and all the bounces go down. It's got lots of character."
Tickets for the tournament are $3 per day and $5 on the final weekend. 11 days passes are available for $15.