8:07 PM CDT, September 27, 2012
Scott McClary says it's not easy finding the right date to host the Muhlenberg Fall Shootout.
"We always have to work around three factors in finding the right Saturday," McClary, the Mules' men's basketball coach said. "Our football team has to be away, our women's volleyball team has to be away and it can't be a SAT testing day. If it's a SAT day, no one would participate because they'd be without their juniors and seniors."
McClary has found the right day and it's this Saturday when 32 high school boys basketball teams will converge on Allentown for the fourth annual Muhlenberg Shootout which is an opportunity for teams to gain valuable experience in the fall against quality competition and also for players to showcase themselves to Division II and III college coaches.
McClary runs the event as a fundraiser for his program, relying mostly on gate receipts and concession stand sales. There is a $5 charge for an all-day pass for fans, but that's a bargain for the hoops junkie who gets a chance to see some of the top teams and players in the nation.
This year's 32-team roster includes powerful Paul VI Catholic of Fairfax, Va., which is ranked No. 16 in the country by USA Today, and the Patrick School, formerly St. Pat's of Elizabeth, N.J., which features three Division I recruits.
Defending PIAA Class A champ Constitution, Gill St. Bernard's of New Jersey and Westtown, a college prep school from West Chester, are also involved and loaded with talent.
McClary said interest has grown over the years to the point that he had to turn teams away for the first time.
"It's grown, I believe, because we've put on a successful product for the last three years and word-of-mouth helps," he said. "Plus, Muhlenberg has first-class facilities and that's an attraction. And I have an assistant coach [Ryan Finch] who has worked his butt off to put this thing together."
Finch, who is also a member of the Stellar Construction "Catch A Rising Star" staff, was able to secure numerous Lehigh Valley-area teams including Allen, Emmaus, Parkland, Dieruff, Freedom, Pen Argyl, Bethlehem Catholic, Nazareth, Quakertown and Stroudsburg.
McClary said this one-day event is a "win-win" for Muhlenberg and the teams involved.
"It gives us a chance to bring recruits on to our campus and see what we have," he said. "One of the freshmen who started for us last year, A.J. Dean of Susquehanna Township, played in this event.
"Plus, it's an opportunity for the local community to see some really good basketball. This is a good area for high school basketball and it's big in the winter and summer. But I noticed when I came back to Muhlenberg that there's not a lot going on in the spring and fall. This helps to fill the fall void."
McClary said he tries to schedule teams against opponents of relative strength.
"That way everybody can get something out of it based on where their program is at," he said. "And we schedule teams against people they're not going to see during their regular season. That way they can experience different styles of basketball and get more out of it."
Games begin at 8:30 a.m. at Memorial Hall and in the adjacent fieldhouse. The last games tip off at 8:30 p.m.
CAROLE WEIL CLASSIC
NCAA restrictions have limited and restructured the look of the Carole Weil College Fall Classic in recent years, but the college softball event still brings quality teams to Pates Park and the Lehigh County Sports Complex for one last fling before they hibernate until spring.
This year's Weil Classic will feature 17 teams and begins with a pair of games at 6 tonight at Pates Park. The action continues throughout Saturday and Sunday at Pates and the LCSC.
As usual, there's an eclectic mix of programs ranging from Division I (Princeton, Villanova, Temple, La Salle, Saint Joseph's, Lehigh, Lafayette) to Division II dynamos (Bloomsburg, Kutztown) to Division III stalwarts (Muhlenberg, Moravian, College of New Jersey, Ursinus).
Among the intriguing matchups are Lehigh-Villanova tonight, Moravian-Temple on Saturday and Kutztown-Bloomsburg on Sunday, all at Pates.
"It's a great opportunity for our local girls to see what these college teams have to offer and some of the college teams like Moravian have a number of Lehigh Valley kids," said Weil chairman Ed Stinner. "The teams can play as many games as they want, depending on the NCAA rules. For Division III teams, for example, they can only play on one day in the fall."
This is the 23rd year for the Classic which serves as the main fundraiser for three $1,500 scholarships that are presented to deserving area players each June. See the Groller's Corner blog for the schedule.