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Macker officials emphasize that anyone can play

In less than a month Macker basketball will hit the streets of downtown Ironton May 21-22.

But for those unfamiliar with Gus Macker 3-on-3 tournaments, the notion of playing half-court ball in the streets seems a bit puzzling to say the least and digging through the fact and fiction around Macker events can be tricky.

Fact: The Friends of Ironton, along with dozens of corporate sponsors, are bringing the first Gus Macker tournament to the Tri-State.

So what are the rules?

First, the courts, err, half-courts.

"Basically, they are 35-feet by 35-feet," said Jeff Thomas, director of sales with Macker Basketball. "It's a half-court setting so there's no fast breaking or anything like that."

Scoring: What traditional basketball hoopsters would score as two points becomes 1 point in the compressed world of Macker.

For the long shooters, the 20-foot line replaces the traditional 3-point line and earns a player 2 points.

Length of games: Games are timed with 25 minutes constituting a full game. Teams must win by two points and tied are decided by "sudden death."

Officiating: All games with players aged 18 and under will have whistles blown.

"They are officiating much like a high school basketball game," Thomas said. "There's the normal traveling fouls, double-dribble, that kind of stuff."

With its family focus, the Macker tournament works to keep the games fun and competitive, but without players and fans getting overly aggressive, Thomas said.

"We've stiffened the penalties for intentional fouls, that type of thing," Thomas said. "In some cases, an intentional foul could wind up going to a 6-point play. We've done those things to try to eliminate the roughness. "

On adult courts, players call their own fouls, as in a traditional street pick-up game. Volunteers at each court, known as Gus Busters, serve as referee in the case of a disputed call, Thomas said.

The Macker tournament will be May 21-22 on the streets and parking lots of downtown Ironton.

Registration forms may be picked up at participating Wendy's restaurants, participating Clark's Pump-N-Shops, and The Ironton Tribune. Forms must be postmarked April 29. Online registration is accepted until May 2 at www.macker.com.

Each team consists of four players, three on the court and one substitute. Teams can register for $108, $27 per player.