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Optimist basketball tourney tips off Monday

by The Indiana Gazette on March 18, 2017 10:39 AM

The 48th annual Indiana Optimist Club Underclass Invitational basketball tournament tips off Monday at Indiana High School.

Ten boys’ teams — Indiana and nine of the 10 from the Heritage Conference — are entered in the single-elimination tournament, which concludes with the championship game and boys’ and girls’ all-star games next Saturday.

Indiana is the No. 1 seed, and Ligonier Valley is the No. 2 seed. Purchase Line is third.

“There is a very strong underclass presence this year, and seeding teams four through eight was difficult,” Greg McKee, the tournament director, said. “You could flip a coin for those spots and the bracket would be fine.”

United and Blairsville open the action at 7 p.m. Monday, and Saltsburg and Marion Center follow at 8:15.

Purchase Line and West Shamokin square off at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Ligonier Valley takes on the United-Blairsville winner at 8:15.

On Wednesday, Homer-Center and Penns Manor tangle at 7 p.m., and Indiana plays the Saltsburg-Marion Center winner at 8:15.

The semifinals are Thursday at 7 and 8:15 p.m.

The championship game tips off at 2 p.m. Saturday and precedes the all-star games. The girls tip off at 3:30 p.m. followed by the boys at 5.

West Shamokin’s Frank Nagy is slated to coach the South girls, and Saltsburg’s Donnie Stitt is slated to coach the South boys. Their teams, however, are still playing in the PIAA playoffs.

Marion Center’s Julie Horner is coaching the North girls, and Indiana’s Greg Lezanic is coaching the North boys.

“The all-star games are a lot of fun for the kids,” McKee said. “You get to play one last time in front of family and friends.”

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