The 2015 upcountry basketball tournament, which brings seven high schools from two counties, is expected to bounce-up from Saturday to Sunday, on the 14th and 15th of March, at the auditorium of the William V.S. Tubman-Gray United Methodist High School in Gbarnga, Bong County.
The resumption of the tournament is owing to the drastically reduction of the infection rate of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which caused its postponement last year.
The tournament was rebranded in 2012 and named in honor of retired Peace Corps volunteer, Harold Emmet McGowan, who spent many years in Liberia teaching mathematics, and served as organizing chairman for the up-country High School Basketball Tournament in 1975, in Ganta, Nimba County.
Mr. McGowan coached many teams that won basketball championships, including Bong County Basketball Team, Cuttington University College, Doloken Gboveh High and Bong Town International High School, among others.
According to this year’s fixture, St. Martins Catholic School, Phebe Lutheran High School, Gboveh High School and William V.S. Tubman-Gray United Methodist High School, all from Bong County are in Group 1, while members of Group 2 include Ganta United Methodist, (Nimba County), St. Mark Lutheran High School and St. Peter Episcopal High School, both from Bong County.
On Saturday, day one of the tournament, St. Martin Catholic School meets Phebe Lutheran High School; Gboveh High School School will face the host, William V.S. Tubman-Gray United Methodist School and St. Mark Lutheran engages St. Peter Episcopal. In the same day one’s fixture, William V.S. Tubman-Gray locks horn with Phebe Lutheran; St. Martin Catholic School will meet Gboveh High School; St. Peter Episcopal faces Ganta United Methodist High School; Phebe Lutheran encounters Gboveh High School and William V.S. Tubman-Gray meets with St. Martin’s Catholic School.
On Sunday, winner one will host runner-up and winner two will meet runner-up 1, and for the 3rd place, loser one will engage loser two; and for the grand final, winner one from the semi-final will be winner two from the second game of the semi-final.
However, according to Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports Murvee Gray, up to press time yesterday, the defending champions, Brooker Washington Institute (BWI) has not confirmed their participation.
Minister Gray said the BWI has up to today to confirm its participation and to be subsequently placed in Group 2 of the fixture.
Minister Gray is yet to disclose whether the Ministry of Youth and Sports has raised the US$33,000.00 to fund the tournament.
He told the Daily Observer recently that the government has appropriated US$6,250.00, which is about 18% of the total budget and was searching for the remainder, intended for transportation, feeding, accommodation, trophies, medals, organizational structure, renovation of the gym, per diems, amongst others.
He revealed that in order to have a successful basketball tournament, the Ministry wrote several institutions for sponsorship.
“We are still hopeful that those institutions will respond, because the tournament starts on Saturday,” Asst. Minister Gray said. “We want to use this medium to thank them in advance for their support and they will always be remembered for their roles in the development of basketball.”
He added: “If Liberia should be as other countries in sports, a program like this needs to be sustained to ensure the total improvement of the game.”