Dave, give us the history of this tournament and tell us how it is
The Hartsburg-Emden Freshmen-Sophomore tournament is in its 48th
year. It has been a 16-team tournament throughout most of the
years it has existed. I was involved with the tourney for 31
consecutive years either as the head coach or as the athletic
director. I retired in 1996 as athletic director. It has been a
good tournament, in fact, Iím sure itís probably the oldest
frosh-soph basketball tourney in the state of Illinois.
What are some of the highlights of the tourney? Any special
players or unique features?
As far as players, that would be hard for me to say. You know,
there have been so many outstanding players that have played in it
that have gone on to become great varsity players. I will tell you
this--something that we started several years back--is that we
have a queen contest. Each school selects a queen representative.
The coaches and officials select the queen candidate out of the 16
teams that are entered. She is crowned at half-time of the third
place game on the final night of the tournament. The finals have
traditionally been held on a Saturday night. So, that adds a
little extra interest to the festivities.
How many days does this tournament run?
Normally, it starts on a Saturday. They play eight games on that
first day. Then they played four games on Tuesday night and two
games on Thursday night. The final Saturday is reserved for the
championship flight: the third place game and the championship
game. Itís spread out that way so that it does not conflict with
Class A Sectionals in the area.
Dave, how has Hartsburg-Emden fared in the tourney over the years?
Over the years, Hartsburg-Emden has not fared very well. To my
knowledge they have only won the tournament one time. We play a
lot of bigger schools, but what really limits us is that most of
our boys use up their tournament eligibility playing varsity ball,
since our overall rosters are small in number. Depending on how
many games make up your regular season, each player can only
participate in two or three tournaments, not including the IHSA
Tournament. Weíve had players and teams that were good enough,
but because we were small in number they had to play on the
varsity and used up any eligibility that they might have had for
the freshmen-sophomore Tournament.
You have said that this 48-year-old tournament is the stateís
Iím confident because I donít think thereís another
tournament in the state of Illinois that has been in existence for
48 consecutive years. Varsity yes, but not frosh-soph.
Do you know the history of the tourney as to how it got started?
The gentleman who really got it all started was the late Fred O.
Finchum. He was a farmer, coach and athletic director. He was the
founder of the tournament. When he passed away, I continued to
carry it on for the next 31 years. When I retired in 1996 they
still continued with the tournament. I am no longer involved in
it. Tom Mikelson, the athletic director, is heading up the
Tell me a little bit about the communityís feelings towards this
The community is actively involved and they really look forward to
it. Since itís an annual event, itís on the calendar and
something to point to every year. The crowds are good and
attendance has been stable for years. Surprisingly teams and fans
come from anywhere and everywhere. This year we have teams from as
far away as Fisher, Va., and of course, many area teams. When
Olympia came into being, we did lose some teams that were caught
up in that consolidation. That actually took away eight different
high schools and obviously eight teams that participated in our
tournament. Basically, it is a Class A tournament. At least during
the time that I was there, we tried to keep it strictly a Class A
tourney because of the level of competition. When you bring in a
AA school you could create a tough going for the other schools.
I know you donít want to single out or leave out any players,
but do any come to mind that have gone on to great careers?
Normal U-High has had some good ones. The Hubbard boys have been
in there. One of them is a freshman at Wesleyan, the other one
graduated last year. Olympia has had some good players in there. I
donít really want to name any players, for fear of leaving
Putting in 31 years sounds to me like youíve been a pretty big
factor in this tourneyís success.
Well, Iíd like to think that Iíve played a pretty big part in
What goes into putting this tournament on?
You want to give your underclassmen an opportunity to play. After
the regular season is over, if they have tournament eligibility
left, it gives them a chance to play up to four post-season games,
if their team is good enough to get to the finals. Thereís a lot
of interest. Youíd be surprised that some teams have been back
every year. I will say this. This year is the first time in the
history of the tournament that the host school, Hartsburg-Emden,
does not have a team in the field. And itís because of the lack
of numbers. We have a small number of boys in the program this
year from freshmen through seniors, and we didnít have enough
with any tourney eligibility left. This is the first time that has
Is there an all-tourney team and other awards?
We normally give four team trophies, and there are no individual
awards. Each queen candidate receives an award as well. The queen
also receives a trophy.
Is this a double or single elimination tourney?
It is a single elimination tourney. You have to win your first two
games to assure yourself a trophy.
I would assume that this is something the players really look
forward to. I know when I played, I never wanted the season to
end; I wanted to keep playing.
Iím sure the coaches and players feel that same way. It gives
them an opportunity to get more experience before they advance to
the varsity level.
What is the future of this tournament especially in light of not
fielding a team this year?
We still have 16 teams entered this year without us. There have
been some years when it was difficult to get 16 teams. A lot of
schools are like us; they just donít have the numbers. If they
donít, they just pass on that year and arenít able to compete.
This tournament has to be a great learning environment for the
They get experience and a great chance to compete.
I commend you for investing 31 years into such an outstanding
event. As a former player, I know we owe a huge debt of gratitude
to you and people like you, who put on tourneys and put together
schedules so that we could enjoy countless athletic experiences.
It feels good, especially when you see all the parents and fans
come in here and support their teams.
Note: This yearís winner of the 48th annual
Hartem Frosh-Soph Basketball Tournament was Warrensburg-Lathamís
sophomore team. Last Saturday this team defeated Fieldcrest High
School to take home the winning trophy. Other teams included third
place finisher, Delavan; fourth place finisher Illini Bluffs;
Greenview; Dee-Mack; Central Catholic; Farmington freshman and
sophomore teams; Midwest Central; Tri-Valley; Virginia;
Warrensburg-Lathamís freshman team; Olympia; Fisher; and A-C