Tiger Tip-Off cancelled
By Matt Vis
To the surprise of tournament organizers, as well as all of the participants, the 34th annual Tiger Tip-Off high school senior boys’ basketball tournament was cancelled with the event half completed.
Westgate’s venerable tournament, first held in 1978, was shut down after the first day of competition on Thursday.
The event’s remaining games will be scrapped, and no champion will be crowned.
Tournament organizers were reluctant to comment on reasons for the cancellation, and suggested that Westgate administration be contacted.
They added that they were confounded by the cancellation, stating that it was not their decision and that government sanctions were not a factor.
Westgate administrators were not present at the venue following word of the cancellation and could not be reached for comment.
The tournament organizers, a group of teachers from Westgate, were at the venue until after 9 p.m. dealing with the repercussions of the decision.
For the players, especially those of the host Westgate Tigers, it’s a lost opportunity.
The tournament is rich with tradition at Westgate and is a highly-anticipated event on the school calendar.
The players look forward to the experience of playing in front of a boisterous home crowd.
“It’s just something, since Grade 9, you dream of playing in and starting in front of your whole school, and just knowing you’re not this year is just upsetting,” said Dexter Hupe, a Grade 12 student.
“We had a really good chance of winning it.
The ruling by the school’s administration places all of the participants in a bind, especially the two teams traveling from outside the city to participate. Sioux Lookout’s Queen Elizabeth and Fort Frances high schools both came to Thunder Bay for the scheduled two-day tournament.
“Transportation definitely isn’t cheap anymore,” said Fort Frances head coach Bryce Coyle.
“We’re probably looking at $2,500 when all is said and done for hotels and bussing and stuff like that.
“It’s always fun to come here and get some games under our belt before our season starts. It’s better than practicing against each other and get some live competition against some good quality opponents.
“The guys were pumped and I’ll be disappointed to break the news to them, that’s for sure.”
Tournament organizers expressed regret for the situation with the out-of-town teams, and were disappointed with the fact that expenses had to be incurred.
St. Ignatius coach Dino Buset confirmed that his school will host a pair of exhibition games today to accommodate the traveling schools and give them some game action experience.
In Thursday’s games, the host Tigers defeated the St. Patrick Saints, the St. Ignatius Falcons beat the Queen Elizabeth Warriors, and the Fort Frances Muskies prevailed over the Superior Gryphons.
Westgate was supposed to play Fort Frances in one semifinal, and St. Ignatius was scheduled to face the Churchill Trojans for the other bid in the final.
The Tiger Tip-Off tournament is held annually in the week preceding the beginning of the regular season.
This year the senior boys’ basketball season is slated to officially open on Tuesday.
David Pineau, activities director with the Superior Secondary Schools Athletic Association, referred the issue to the public school board.
It is unknown what impact this will have on upcoming extracurricular events.