MULLAN — The Mullan Pavilion recently played host to one of the city’s biggest annual events — the Mullan Jr. High Basketball Tournament.
This year eight boys and girls teams took over the Silver Valley’s most eastern city, and it was one of our own that brought home the girls championship.
Mullan, Wallace and Kellogg were all represented at the tournament, as well as Lakeside, Kootenai, Genesis Prep, Clark Fork and St. Regis.
The Wallace eighth-grade girls managed to walk out of the tournament as champions, but the Silver Valley was held out of the boys championships after strong performances from Lakeside and Kootenai, with Lakeside taking home the title.
Both the Lakeside boys and the Wallace eighth-grade girls also brought home honors as champions of the free throw competition.
Mullan athletic director Stetson Spooner said he enjoys the tournament because it allows some of the younger basketball players to get some of the spotlight from their high school counterparts. He was also complimentary toward the girls championship team.
“The Wallace eighth-grade girls seemed to win in dominant fashion all day,” Spooner remarked. “It is a great opportunity for middle schoolers to get a day to shine and compete during the grind and height of varsity league play and to be recognized and celebrated. The tournament feel of an entire day is something these athletes will remember forever whether they continue playing into high school or not.”
Wallace eighth-grade girls coach Martha House was really excited for her team and complimented her host for putting on the event. She also discussed how her current batch of eighth-graders are a group to keep an eye for the next few years.
Her squad knocked off a talented Kellogg seventh-grade team, before ousting Clark Fork, and finally Kootenai in the championship.
“Mullan always does a great job hosting the tournament,” House said. “Most of the girls on our team have been playing together since third grade. The Clark Fork game was by far my favorite game to coach and watch. It was not because of the team’s victory, but rather how the girls united, played and the sportsmanship they showed. The team enjoyed themselves very much and was very proud to bring a trophy home. It may go in my memory bank as my favorite game in the history of these girls, but only time will tell, because these girls continue to amaze me.”
As a city, it is beneficial for Mullan to host the event because of the dollars it generates for some of the local businesses. In the school district, the tournament is one of the athletic department’s biggest fundraisers.
“This is our major fundraising event for athletics,” said Don Kotschevar, Mullan High School principal and Mullan city mayor. “Cost for officials at high school events has continually increased and we have a difficult time at most varsity events creating enough revenue to pay for them. This tourney helps to offset those costs and helps with uniform expenses. Every little bit helps when these events are hosted to our area businesses — the Outlaw serves more hamburgers and the Mullan Trail sells more gas. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase our facilities — not many schools host a swimming pool.”