DRAFFENVILLE – The fourth edition of the Gunner’s Magic Train Classic basketball tournament anchors this week’s high school basketball schedule.
The tournament Friday and Saturday at Reed Conder Gymnsium will feature six games, with the Marshals and Lady Marshals playing two games each, with five girls and five boys teams filling out three-game schedules each day.
The Marshals will play Cairo, Ill., and Central Hardin, while the Lady Marshals will meet Henderson County and Central Hardin.
Cairo’s Lady Pilots will meet McLean County and the Lone Oak Purple Flash will play Warren Central in other contests.
The tournament is the principle fundraising activity for the Gunner’s Magic Train foundation, which was established after the death of 8-year-old Gunner Gillespie, son of Marshall County basketball coach Gus Gillespie and his wife, Janna, in 2008.
The event was established by the Gillespies and Jeff Waters, radio voice of the Marshals for WCBL Radio in Benton.
“It’s really grown,” Waters said. “It started as a boys two-night doubleheader.”
The foundation’s purpose is to promote awareness and support efforts to find a cure for pediatric cancer, particularly diffused intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the type of brain tumor that Gunner battled for nearly a year before he died Oct. 23, 2008.
Cancerous brain tumors are one of the most common types of cancer in children, according Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
Another purpose of the foundation, Waters said, is to provide support to area families who have had a child fall victim to pediatric cancer.
“The foundation has helped a lot of families,” he said. “I’m very proud of that.”
n Before this weekend’s tournament begins, both the Marshals and Lady Marshals have games scheduled for today. The boys are at home against Lone Oak. The Purple Flash are 8-11 after a slow start to the season, but bring a three-game winning streak into the game at 7:30 p.m.
Meanwhile the girls travel to Hopkinsville for a rematch of the Sweet Sixteen game in Bowling Green, won by Hopkinsville 56-52 on March 8.
The Lady Tigers are 9-6 coming into the 7:30 p.m. contest at Tiger Gym.
n The Christian Fellowship Eagles travel to Dawson Springs Friday for a 7:15 game. The Eagles are 1-13 while Dawson Springs is 2-14.