That's what makes viewing showcase events such as the Midsummer Night Madness tournament that is coming to Snohomish County this week so important.
More than 110 teams and well over 1,100 girls basketball players from 10 western states and Canada will compete in the 17th annual tournament that this summer moved from Kirkland to Snohomish County. Many of the players involved will go on to play NCAA Division 1 basketball.
The tournament, one of several taking place across the country during two six-day NCAA viewing periods this month, begins Thursday and concludes with the medal games on Sunday.
The tournament headquarters will be at Everett High School, with other games scheduled at Kamiak and Mariner high schools, and Everett Community College. Games start each day at 9 a.m. and the final games of the day tip off at 9 p.m.
Admission is $10 per day and is good for all four sites.
“The public is welcome to attend,” tournament director and Juanita High School head girls basketball coach Sam Lee said. “We'd love to have people come. There's a lot of basketball, and for 10 bucks you go to all the gyms and see all the basketball you want.”
The players, who will be in high school this coming fall, are hoping to catch the eye of more than 120 colleges that will have representatives in the stands. That group includes Washington, Washington State and most of the other Pac-12 schools.
“All NCAA-certified events like this one are for girls, in our case, and boys to get exposure in front of college coaches to be evaluated (to determine) if they want to give them scholarships or not,” Lee said.
Unlike high school basketball, where most of the girls competing this weekend are the best players on their teams, showcases like Midsummer Night Madness give college coaches an opportunity to see how those players match up against comparable talent.
“It's important for college coaches to see how those girls perform against kids of equal or even better skills than she has,” Lee said. “To see how she performs outside of her natural environment — her natural environment being her high school team — in a showcase where there is a lot more pressure because the risk and reward is high.”
After holding the tournament in various locations for the past 17 years, Lee was approached by the Snohomish County Sports Commission earlier this year about the possibility of moving the tournament to the Everett area. He agreed and is excited about the event's new home.
“We went up and we looked at the facilities and the deal came together,” Lee said. “We're happy to be in Snohomish County. This is our first year here and we're going to probably stay here for a long time.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter at @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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