Though he's entering his third year as IHMVCU Shootout director, there hasn't been any drop-off in excitement from Gary Thrapp.
The girls basketball shootout that Thrapp took over in 2017 is set for Saturday at Augustana's Carver Center and will feature seven games between teams from Iowa and Illinois.
"We have some tremendous basketball and this is a tremendous way to get it all together in one venue and highlight them, promote them and watch them compete," Thrapp said at a Sunday press conference at Beyond the Baseline in Davenport. "I think we have seven games that will all be really competitive."
Among the matchups — which starts with United Township playing Davenport West at 10 a.m. and ends with Rock Island squaring up with North Scott at 8:30 p.m. — is the first meeting between two Quad-Cities' two parochial schools in nine years.
The last time Davenport Assumption and Alleman met was in 2010, a 55-48 Assumption win.
"It's exciting for the area to have both Catholic schools on both sides of the river play each other," Alleman head coach Megan McCracken said. "I think it's great to bring both sides together to compete so I'm excited and looking forward to it and I know our girls are excited as well."
Neither McNamara nor McCracken have had a chance to coach in the rivalry and both are excited for the opportunity when the two teams meet at 1:30 p.m.
"I have a lot of respect for (McCracken) and what she does and the whole school and the program in general," Assumption head coach Katelyn McNamara said. "It's going to be exciting to get to play against them. ... We're going to make the best of the opportunity and come ready to play on Saturday."
Though it's been nine years since the last meeting, this is something both coaches would like to see turn into a more consistent matchup.
The boys basketball teams have played every year since 2013, a rivalry game that includes a traveling trophy.
The girls soccer teams met in four straight seasons before last year and the football teams resumed their rivalry this fall after a 34-year hiatus.
There's hope that this game can turn into a yearly tradition and not necessarily dependent on shootout pairings.
"I know that (athletic director Wade King) and I have been talking about how we're going to fill some non-conference voids in the future and Alleman is definitely one that's come up; I'd love to play them," McNamara said. "I'd love to get a boy-girl doubleheader going ... I think it could be a really big deal and something really cool for the boys and the girls programs."
Both teams started off slowly but have come on as of late. Assumption has won four straight and is now 5-5. Alleman went 3-1 at the State Farm Holiday Classic this weekend to finish as the small school consolation champions down in Bloomington, Illinois, and enters this week 9-9.
"I really think we struggled a little bit at the beginning of the season and now we're starting to build confidence," McNamara said. "We're starting to gain some steam and I think we're going to turn a corner here from the first part of the year and carry that all the way through January."
Rufus Greer, Jr. will serve as the honorary captain at the event. Greer has spent over 40 years coaching, including stops at United Township and Moline as well as Black Hawk College, where he spent 18 years as both the men's and women's basketball coach. After coaching in the professional ranks in various leagues, Greer is now serving as an assistant with the UT girls basketball team.
"It means a great deal ... being recognized in the community as someone who has done his part to make the community a better place," Greer said. "The interest and the zeal to do it is still there. ... Every day I get up and I want to go do something with basketball, I want to start working with someone. It's been a nice ride so far."
Tournament directors will also honor Ed and Teresa Wing and Joseph Obleton as the 2019 Pillar of Light honorees, recognizing individuals who have given a part of their lives to help youth sports improve.
The Wings are the head coaches and directors of Clinton Evolution Volleyball Club while Obleton has spent over 40 years coaching at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels.