Sports

M-S searches for games to replace local Thanksgiving tournament

By FRED KRONER
fred@mahometnews.com

Ryan Bosch is encountering obstacles in his first year as Mahomet-Seymour boys’ basketball head coach, and the team is still a month away from the start of preseason workouts.

The varsity and junior varsity schedules — which had been finalized months ago — finds a series of openings for the season’s first week.

A planned Thanksgiving-week tournament for both varsity and JV teams, featuring six east central Illinois high schools, is being scrapped. The decision is due, in part, to security concerns from some Champaign-Urbana schools which would have served as hosts.

“Most teams don’t want to be scrambling for games all of a sudden,” Bosch said.

M-S athletic director Matt Hensley has been contacting an assortment of schools this week in search of opponents that have availability between  Nov. 19-27.

“It’s a work in progress,” Hensley said Thursday morning. “We have some feelers out.

“We’re shooting for (adding) three or four games.”

The original tournament schedule called for the Bulldogs to play five games: Centennial, Champaign Central, Danville, Rantoul and St. Thomas More. The opener would have been Nov. 19 vs. Rantoul.

Some of those schools still remain possibilities as Hensley hopes to secure contracts within the next week.

“It will be a combination of home and away games,” he said.

High schools in Illinois can play their first game in the boys’ basketball season on Nov. 19.

There won’t be any late-November scheduling concerns for 2019, and beyond, for the Bulldogs.

M-S had withdrawn from the Lincoln Tournament — where it had participated for the past decade — after last year’s event.

“As soon as we had the impression this thing was struggling, we reached out to Coach (Neil) Alexander (at Lincoln),” Hensley said. “We’re going back to Lincoln next year. We’ve already signed the contract.”

The IHSA limit on games in a season — whether in tournaments or individually — is 31.

M-S wasn’t at the maximum originally and Hensley doesn’t expect to schedule that many games.

“Around 28 to 30 is what we’ll have,” he said.

As he seeks to complete the scheduling, Hensley has an extra date available, Tuesday, Nov. 27.

“One of the things we’ve done in the past is not play the Tuesday after Thanksgiving because we play two games on (the previous) Saturday),” he said. “This gives us more flexibility now as we schedule.”

Boys’ basketball teams in the state can start practice on  Nov. 5.

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