SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The 24th annual Great Harbor Shootout brought scores of players from throughout Maine for the state’s largest postseason basketball tournament last weekend.
Numerous matches were played in multiple locations over three days, but for Diana Novella and her team of organizers at Harbor House Community Service Center, it took more than a weekend’s worth of planning to pull off the event.
“We started planning for it in the beginning of January,” she said after the final game at Pemetic Elementary School on Sunday, March 20. “There’s a whole massive amount of things that need to be done. We’ve been working for months on it.”
Organizers and volunteers put together the various game brackets for the four categories of junior high school boys, junior high school girls, high school boys and high school girls. Once the 83 teams signed up for the tournament, the game packets had to be sent out to all participants.
Organizers also began seeking sponsors and advertisers and ensuring that all the locations were fully equipped for the matches.
“We have six locations, seven gyms and all going at the same time for most of the tournament,” Novella added. “It took a lot of time, a lot of organization and a lot of planning to get it done.”
Another essential ingredient in the success of the tournament, according to Novella, was hundreds of hours of work done by volunteers.
Eight-five students and area residents helped in ticketing at the gate, setting up and managing food shacks, running the clock and as referees.
The tournament attracted a number of student volunteers that needed to complete community service requirements towards graduation and others who wanted to lend a hand because they enjoy watching the games and wanted to be a part of it. “Then you have the community members who are so willing to do the clock for seven hours straight and want to just be here helping.”
The tournament is a fundraiser for youth sports programming at Harbor House. According to Novella, over the past few years, it has become integral for the community as a whole.
“You get this huge influx of people coming from hours upon hours away, and they are staying in hotels and eating in restaurants here,” she said. “It is a huge boost to the economy as well.”