Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Mother Nature has final say in inaugural prep basketball tournament at UCCS

KEVIN CARMODY Published: December 19, 2012

A year’s worth of planning, organizing and anticipation was no match for Mother Nature.

Weekend mountain snows, coupled with Wednesday’s blizzardlike conditions in the Pikes Peak region, reduced the first Mountain Lion High School Holiday Shootout at Colorado-Colorado Springs from 12 games to four.

The tournament, which featured boys’ and girls’ teams from area schools Peyton and Calhan, along with Crested Butte and Sargent, took its first hit over the weekend. A snowstorm dumped more than four feet over Monarch Pass, making travel from Crested Butte eastward nearly impossible.

Then on Wednesday, Calhan was among several schools to close due to wintry conditions, meaning games with Peyton on a neutral court were also casualties to the weather.

“It had been a competitive tournament with a good local showing, so it’s unfortunate,” UCCS assistant athletic director Nathan Gibson said. “It was a neat deal to target the smaller schools and showcase our campus. We wanted to find a way to use our resources and expertise in running games and events to serve the community and show what UCCS is all about.”

UCCS didn’t post an entry fee for the tournament, and all proceeds from tickets and concessions were given back to the schools to assists with travel costs.

“Economically, it makes sense to travel and get multiple games at one location,” Crested Butte boys’ coach Brandin Hamilton said. “Our ski resort was happy, but I feel bad since this was shaping up to be a nice tournament in terms of quality in 2A.”

Coaches and administration from Peyton and Calhan were working Wednesday to reschedule their game at UCCS, possibly Thursday or Friday. Neither school is scheduled to return to the court until Jan. 11, 2013, following a lengthy holiday break.

Calhan boys’ coach Rick Carothers, whose team lost Tuesday to Sargent and hoped to redeem itself against Peyton on Wednesday, understood the decision to at least postpone the game due to the conditions. On Nov. 9, 2009, his wife and daughter were among 29 passengers from the Calhan Middle School basketball teams involved in a rollover accident when their bus slid off an icy stretch of U.S. 24 near Peyton.

“We really wish we could play another game,” Carothers said. “It’s such a nice facility, and the hospitality was incredible. Everyone at UCCS was so good to us. But we have a school policy that if we’re out of school because of weather, we can’t play. We don’t take chances anymore.”

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