Six-team boys' basketball tournament canceled

Six-team boys' basketball tournament canceled

CHAMPAIGN — A six-team boys' basketball tournament initially set for the week of Thanksgiving will not tip off as originally scheduled, the latest in an ongoing series of changes to Champaign County prep athletics.

Champaign Central athletic director Jane Stillman said Wednesday afternoon a round-robin event involving the Maroons, Centennial, Danville, Mahomet-Seymour, Rantoul and St. Thomas More is "not going to go the way it was," citing "a safety issue" as the reason for this change.

Each of the six programs expected to host a game either Nov. 19 or 21 before the teams were slated to meet at Central's Combes Gymnasium for two days of games on Nov. 23 and 24.

Some of those early-week games will still take place, but the six teams will not come together at Central's court that weekend.

"It was an exciting time for the guys, our team, our players, our fans, our boosters," Maroons coach Jeff Finke said. "We're disappointed. At this point in time, it's in the administration's hands."

Stillman said she felt all involved parties understood why the tournament was canceled, though neither she nor Finke could confirm what effect this might have on future tournaments.

Initial plans had each institution accepting hosting duties once in the next five seasons, following Central's turn in 2018.

"It's a safety issue," Stillman said, "and I always go with safety first."

Multiple football games this season featuring Central, Centennial, Danville and Urbana have been moved from the 7 p.m. slot on Friday following the shooting death of 16-year-old Central student David Sankey in late August.

In December 2017, shots were fired outside Combes Gym after a Maroons-Vikings boys' basketball game. Danville officials postponed several high school sports dates in Champaign-Urbana following that incident.

Some basketball teams have already changed their respective schedules in response to the local tournament's cancellation.

STM will attend the Paris Thanksgiving Tournament beginning Nov. 19, while Danville will take part in the Galesburg Thanksgiving Tournament starting Nov. 23.

Then there are the following games that will still take place, just as regular season games and not part of any tournament:

— M-S visits Rantoul on Nov. 19;

— Central hosts Centennial on Nov. 19;

— Danville hosts Rantoul on Nov. 20;

— Rantoul travels to Centennial on Nov. 21;

— Danville treks to Mahomet-Seymour on Nov. 21.