Basketball: Denton Summer Shootout begins today

07:35 AM CDT on Friday, July 15, 2011
By Marshall Moore / Staff Writer
In 1998, Stephen Martin tried to start a basketball tournament.
Looking for a way to organize a fundraiser for the Argyle Booster Club and inspired by a few out-of-state tournaments he’d recently attended as the coach of a summer league team, he sent out fliers and e-mails to try to pick up enough teams to organize a field.
“Let’s just say it didn’t work very well,” he laughed.
His next attempt, though, fared much better.
For the 13th straight year, the Denton Summer Shootout will tip off at gyms around the area and give nearly 175 teams ranging from local high school programs to out-of-state select teams a chance to hone their skills in the heat of summer.
Games will begin today and conclude Sunday with the championship games in each age division.
“It’s just a way for me personally to keep in touch with the game,” Martin said. “When my kids graduated from school and got out of basketball, it gave me a chance to stay around it and keep a little bit of that interest level.”
The tournament started in 1999 after Martin’s first attempt at forming a tournament fizzled the previous year. He succeeded with the DSS after attending a tournament in Kansas and working out an affiliation with Mid America Youth Basketball. With the MAYB’s backing, the tournament took off and this year will host a multitude of in- and out-of-state teams in seven age divisions ranging from fourth-graders to high school juniors and seniors.
“We kind of get a mix of it all,” Martin said. “We get some select teams that use the tournament as a kind of in-between warm-up for evaluation tournaments, and we get some high school programs that are just trying to get better and get ready for next year. It’s a very diverse field.”
That field includes three high school programs from the immediate area: Denton, Argyle and Liberty Christian. All of those teams are composed of sophomores and juniors from last year’s regular-season squads and will use the tournament to gain a little experience and chemistry heading into next season.
A variety of select teams are set to compete in the tournament, which — unlike tournaments such as the Great American Shootout, which moved from Denton to Duncanville last summer — falls during the non-evaluation period. This means that players won’t be officially scouted and will instead use the tournament to stay sharp until the period ends in 10 days.
That non-evaluation period does not, however, extend to officials. One of the tournament’s perks is that it works in conjunction with the North Texas Basketball Officials Association to host the organization’s yearly evaluation clinic.
So, instead of using officials just looking for work over the summer, the tournament is staffed by full crews of officials working hard to better their evaluations.
“It helps,” Martin said. “You get a little better officiating when you have guys at that level instead of just your standard summer-type deal.”
Tournament games are scheduled to take place beginning today at Ryan, Denton, Guyer, Argyle, Ponder and Lake Dallas. Patrons can purchase a $15 tournament pass to attend all three days of the tournament at any site, while a student pass costs $12.
MARSHALL MOORE can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is mmoore@dentonrc.com .