Gus Macker tournament coming to area

Gus Macker is coming to the area.
Gus Macker is coming to the area.

BIG RAPIDS — It’s the 45th season of Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball, and the long-time outdoor hoops festival will be making a stop next door to Osceola County.

Macker founder Scott McNeal, who invented the tournament, along with his brother, Mitch, in their family’s Lowell driveway in 1974, announced the tournament will be coming to downtown Big Rapids on Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20.

On the current Macker schedule, it’s slated to be the fourth overall event of 2018 and the second one in Michigan. An event is also set for April 28-29 in Mount Pleasant.

There are currently 33 Macker nationwide events on the 2018 calendar. The game is open to males and females, from age 7 to 70-plus regardless of experience. The event originated in Lowell and later moved to Belding, where Macker headquarters are located.

But the original 3-on-3 tournament started in 1987. There have been 1,421 sanctioned Macker tournaments presented for over 670,800 teams or almost 2.7 million players and played before more than 27.5 million spectators. Teams receive at least three scheduled games each tournament. It’s a double-elimination tournament but there’s also a consolation bracket for teams that lose their first two games.

“We are partnering with a Big Rapids basketball group,” McNeal said. “Kent Ingles and his daughter, Jessica Haist (current Big Rapids boys and girls varsity coaches) are the two main ones involved. The athletic director (Dawn Thompson) is involved. I know it’s going to benefit some of the different organizations. They’ll have various organizations at the school involved in setting up the tournament and taking it down.

“We’ve been working with them a long time. It came back to me last fall when they brought up the possibility. We were trying to see if they were going to wait a year and what site they’re shooting for.”

The event will be on Michigan Avenue and the southernmost boundary is the intersection with Maple Street. It will go north a few blocks, with the middle school set to serve as tournament headquarters.

“It goes from the M-20 light toward the middle school,” McNeal said. “There’s a point at which before you get to the middle school the street drops on an angle (from the Elks building to the roller rink building). It’s too sloped to play on. We’re trying to figure out when we get to the nitty-gritty of what to do about it.”

It’s an early season Macker. Many are in July and August.

“We have to gun it to get it going,” McNeal said. “We’re very excited about it. It’s in an area we think will draw well. Jessica’s kids and Kent’s grandkids have been playing in it and they’re big followers of our event. They’re very enthusiastic about getting this in Big Rapids and we’re very excited to be in that market. We feel there’s a lot of Macker players between the Ludington and Grand Rapids area that would be excited.”

McNeal said there was an indoor Macker event at Ferris in the 1990s.

“We did more indoor stuff in the 1990s than we do currently,” McNeal said. “I think most of them were indoor with the Ferris State coaching staff.”

The team entry fee is $144. The main deadline is on April 27 and the online deadline is on April 30. Teams can register by going to

“We’re excited about it coming,” McNeal said.