The Mr. Basketball Invitational takes place in Kearney and even though teams from Colorado, Kansas, Wisconsin, and even Alaska come to play, one central Nebraska team is making this tournament a lot more meaningful.
When Broken Bow head basketball coach, Anthony Blum, was killed in a car accident in June, it saddened Nebraska's basketball community, but inspired as well.
Nebraska Select Program Director, Doyle Dillow says, "Like I told the team when we started the tournament, if you don't have a purpose to play for...you have it now. You've got individuals affected in the state of Nebraska's basketball. They were doing something they loved. Anthony Blum was a big part of our organization, as a matter of fact we were talking about him maybe helping out."
The plan was for Blum to coach the Nebraska Select 15 and under team, and even though he isn't able to sit courtside, his influence is still being felt.
"He was one of the best coaches, best guys," says Nebraska Select 17 Assistant Coach, Monte Ritchie. "They're a great family. That's kind of what we're about at Select. We're very close, tight knit, support each other. Those are all the qualities that Anthony Blum had."
The central Nebraska basketball community has struggled with the thought of moving on without Blum, but his colleagues believe that this tournament is the perfect opportunity to make the community stronger.
"The Broken Bow community and Broken Bow basketball is searching for a purpose. They have a purpose now to continue," says Dillow, "I think these days, people search for purposes. Our purpose here is not only to represent Broken Bow and their community, but also we need to deliver the message to keep trying, do something with passion."
As the Nebraska Select 17 team plays with passion brought by the remembrance of Anthony Blum, their 7-0 record in the tournament is fueled by a way of life taught by Blum.
Ritchie says, "Just being there for each other, you know, always be there for your teammates. For other coaches, for other people, that's the biggest thing. Not so much basketball, just being a good person and you're not going to find a better person than Anthony Blum was or that whole Blum family is."