Mid America Youth Basketball was developed to give boys and girls a chance to improve their skills in a competitive environment.
On Saturday, that competitive environment came to Great Bend. The Great Bend/Ellinwood MAYB Tournament opened with pool play on Saturday and ends with bracket play today.
“This is our third year doing it,” MAYB tournament director Jeremiah Petrocci said. “We have more than 40 teams this year. Last year, we had 22 teams, so that’s quite a jump. I think teams are liking what we’re doing here.”
The tournament boasts six divisions spread out over four venues — including Great Bend Middle School, Panther Fieldhouse, Panther Athletic Center and Ellinwood High School.
MAYB has been around since 1993. It started as one summer tournament with 69 teams and has grown to more than 170 tournaments with over 3,700 teams.
“The program is huge,” Petrocci said. “It’s been around for 20 years. It’s a great youth experience for the kids and something for the high school coaches to help develop and get kids out.
There are 41 teams involved, separated into boys and girls divisions — fourth- and fifth-grade boys, seventh- and eighth-grade boys, ninth- and 10th-grade boys, 11th- and 12th-grade boys, seventh- and eighth-grade girls and 11th- and 12th-grade girls.
“We don’t really have a goal for an amount of teams at the tournament,” Petrocci said. “We embrace whatever they want. We do it for the local teams and for the teams that want to travel a little bit.”
There are 10 teams either based locally or in the area, including the fourth- and fifth-grade Barton Blazers.
“Our summer team has gone to five tournaments, Wichita, Garden City, Hays, Maize and Great Bend,” Blazers head coach Troy Griffith said. “It is definitely nice to play in Great Bend. We get to sleep in our own beds tonight.”