WASHINGTON — The task of organizing a multi-team high school basketball tournament is daunting.
Add a pandemic into the mix, and the work multiplies exponentially.
That's the challenge facing the organizers of the 15th annual Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions and the 56th annual Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament.
The Tournament of Champions is scheduled for Nov. 24-28 in Washington's Torry Gym. The Holiday Tournament is scheduled for Dec. 28-30 in Pekin's Hawkins and Custer-Stoudt gyms.
Boys basketball teams travel from across the country to play in Washington and from all over the state to play in Pekin.
The tournament committees are taking an optimistic but realistic approach to what they could be facing in the next few months.
"There are so many unknowns, but we're proceeding as if there will be a tournament in November," said Eric Schermerhorn, Tournament of Champions director and Washington boys basketball coach.
What if there is a tournament, but with only a few or no fans? What if some teams can't make the trip to Washington?
"We'll start looking at contingency plans in a couple weeks," Schernerhorn said. "Everything will be on the table, even the worst-case scenario of no basketball season and no tournament."
Schermerhorn prefers not to think about that last possibility.
"I'm a glass half-full guy by nature," he said. "I'm hoping there will be high school sports in some capacity this fall then things will be better come basketball season."
The city of Washington has been a sponsor of the Tournament of Champions since its inception.
But the city's $10,000 sponsorship donation to the Tournament of Champions is listed among $665,405 in possible budget cuts or deferments approved this week by the City Council because of the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Tournament of Champions donation is on the list because it would not impact city services if it was cut," said City Administrator Ray Forsythe.
"Keep in mind the items on the list are just options for the City Council to consider should the city's revenue not meet budget amounts," Forsythe said. "The items are not eliminated or deferred at this time."
Forsythe said each city department director and himself went line-by-line through their budgets and identified items the City Council could cut or defer when the time comes to commit.
Washington Mayor Gary Manier said he believes the city's Tournament of Champions funding would be cut only if the tournament is canceled.
There were 20 teams in last year's Tournament of Champions. The teams played in two eight-team brackets plus two shootout games.
Schermerhorn said 21 teams are expected to play in the tournament this year, with two eight-team brackets and three shootout games.
The same 16 teams as last year are expected to play this year in the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament.
Like the Tournament of Champions, there are many questions that Holiday Tournament organizers need answered over the next few months.
"We'll have a sub-committee of our tournament committee look at contingencies," said Barry Gurvey, Holiday Tournament director and Pekin athletics director.
"Will there be no changes at all? Will there be fans or a limited number of fans in the stands? What do we do if a team be unable to travel here?" Gurvey said.
"Then there are our sponsors. We have to be cognizant of the economic conditions out there for businesses."
Gurvey said he hopes there will be a clearer picture in December "of what we need to do to make our tournament happen while ensuring the health and safety of our participants and fans."
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.