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Weekend tournaments fill hoops hole in Western New York


For two decades, thousands hit the downtown Buffalo streets in three-on-three basketball tournaments. That opportunity almost disappeared this summer before two tournaments quickly organized and scheduled events for this weekend.

Buff City Hoops will be held Saturday at Masten Park. Young promoter Corey McGowan scrambled to put together a Gus Macker Three-on-Three Basketball Tournament on Grand Island on Saturday and Sunday.

While the area's Gus Macker was held last summer at Darien Lake, downtown Buffalo was home to the event for two decades.

"A lot of kids were hurt behind it because they look forward to playing in that type of three-on-three tournament," said Murray Holman, organizer of Buff City Hoops.  

The void provided an opportunity.

"We had to figure out a plan about what we were going to do in the city of Buffalo with our kids. It kind of helped us come up with a better plan to be participating with our kids all year long, instead of just two days," Holman said.

According to Holman, the teams playing Saturday at Masten Park have been playing throughout the summer at community centers and other venues throughout the city.

Like many basketball lovers, Holman played in the downtown Gus Macker. Thousands participated in the events through the years until violence began to break out.

"It started to become a burden," recalled Holman who is also a member of Buffalo Peacemakers.     

"It started to become a cost, a big cost for security, law enforcement, all those things. So, to move it out, I respect the mayor for moving it out because of the situation and a lot of people don't understand that."

Holman says Buff City Hoops will have referees, security and law enforcement on hand to help keep order. He also stresses that team coaches are working to make sure players understand the need for sportsmanship.

With two tournaments emerging this weekend, Holman was asked what basketball means to Buffalo.

 "What does hockey mean to the city of Buffalo? We're part of the fabric here in the city of Buffalo," Holman responded.

But Buff City Hoops is not just going to be doing basketball. We're going to venture into hockey and other sports and reach out to other organizations across the city of Buffalo to see how we can make this a safe summer and a safe winter."