Middle Schoolers To Jam Hoops Again

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The overwhelming success of the inaugural Copper State Jam middle school basketball tournament has prompted directors Steve and Marlow Rensch to begin laying plans for a similar event in 2000.


Only this time around, the tournament will be played over the course of two weekends to accommodate a larger field of teams that have indicated their desire to participate.


A small-school tournament -- for schools equal in size to Rim Country Middle -- will be held Jan. 21-23.


A tournament for larger schools such as Phoenix Gilbert and Chandler, which participated in 1999, will be contested Feb. 4-6.


Rensch said he is acting on the suggestion of most of the coaches who attended the January 1999 fray to expand the tournament into large- and small-school divisions.


Both tournaments will be played, like last year, in the Tonto Apache Activity Center.


Currently, the Rensches are scouring the community for volunteers and sponsors to help insure the tournament is the success it was last season.


Rensch estimates last year's event cost almost $15,000, and the 2000 Jam will be even more expensive because it will be twice as large.


The good news in the expansion, Rensch said, is that twice as many kids and families will experience the excitement of the Jam.


As they did at the first tournament, the Rensches plan on attracting sports celebrities to the 2000 Jam to mingle with local youngsters, fans and parents. Former NBA great Tom Chambers -- now a special assistant with the Phoenix Suns -- was a hit at the inaugural tournament, as was ASU Sun Devil football player Willie Daniels.


Other highlights of the Jam the directors plan on retaining are the high-quality starter jackets and medallions that were given to the all-star team members, the commissioned, original copper-coated team trophies, and souvenir T-shirts to every coach and player.


The directors also insured a safe time for all by hiring security and emergency medical personnel to oversee the event.

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