After a one-year hiatus, the Elementary Basketball League Tournament is back.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s event, which annually culminates with the big “Super Saturday” event at Columbus East or Columbus North High School. This year’s boys and girls tournament started Monday night, and Super Saturday will be Feb. 5 at East.
“(Missing last season) was a really big hit to the program and each school,” new EBL director Stephen Shipley said. “The Super Saturday raises money for the schools for uniforms and things like that, so not only was there a financial hit, it crushes the morale of the students that didn’t get to play.”
Shipley took over the EBL program from Dennis Pierce in September, and the season started in October.
“It was kind of quick to get to know everything,” Shipley said. “But with my experience prior, it wasn’t that hard to learn everything. Plus, Dennis has really helped me out through the season.”
Shortly after moving to Columbus in 2014, Shipley got involved in the EBL as a coach. He had a daughter that played basketball and another that cheered.
Shipley also was athletics director at CSA-Lincoln and currently teaches there.
“I kind of got a look at the league from every angle,” Shipley said. “The No. 1 thing we emphasize with EBL is, it is a learning league. I love the idea of being competitive and everything, but we draw their focus to improving over the course of the season.”
First-round action in this year’s EBL Tournament began on Monday at Southside with the CSA-Fodrea and Richards boys and girls squaring off. Tonight, The Southside and Mt. Healthy boys and girls will play at Southside, and Wednesday, the Schmitt and Rockcreek boys and girls will square off, also at Southside.
The Clifty Creek and Taylorsville boys and girls will meet in a second-round battle on Thursday at Southside. Smith’s boys and girls will play the CSA-Fodrea-Richards winners on Monday, CSA-Lincoln’s boys and girls will face the Southside-Mt. Healthy winners on Feb. 1 and Parkside’s defending champion boys and girls teams will meet the Schmitt-Rockcreek winners on Feb. 2, all at Southside.
The semifinals will be Feb. 4 at East. The girls final is at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at East, followed by the boys final at 4 p.m.
Cheer Day will begin at 10 a.m. Feb. 5 at East.
Tickets are $2 per session for students and $3 for adults. Family passes are available for $7 per session.
“If you’ve never been to and EBL game, it’s a really special experience for them,” Shipley said. “So the fact that we get to do it this year, this year we have sixth-graders that didn’t get to participate last year, the idea of not getting to participate this year was something that they were really worried about it. So there’s a lot of excitement. They love playing on those big floors at North and East.”