WASHINGTON, Ill. — A monumental basketball tournament took on a whole new meaning this year.
“This years’ got kind of a new purpose. All the years before it’s been mainly basketball. Great basketball teams and athletes. Number ones in the NBA draft. This year has taken a new purpose as into brain cancer awareness and renaming the tournament after Kevin Brown,” said Washington Community High School’s Athletic Director Herb Knoblauch.
Former Panther’s Varsity boy’s basketball coach Kevin Brown passed away in June of this year after battling a rare form of brain cancer.
Coach Brown had a very successful career at Washington Community High School where he celebrated his 400th victory at home back in 2017. He also played a vital part of hosting the Tournament of Champions.
“It’s his baby. He’s the one who started it back in 2007, him and Shawn Powell. This day would be like Christmas Day for a 5-year-old, for Kevin Brown,” Knoblauch said.
The Tournament is now called the Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions.
It sees incredibly talented high school hoops teams from around the country come to Washington Community High School.
But after Coach Brown passed away, the tournament means so much more.
“Community’s always been great here at Washington High School. But it’s all the outlying schools that come here. We had a school from Millenium, schools from Alabama, Michigan. When they heard about it, they raised money and brought money in,” Knoblauch said.
Knoblauch says he hopes this tournament brings awareness to people to donate to brain cancer research.
“Having that awareness of brain cancer, especially the one KB had, that has no cure yet. There’s a lot of research and they need research money. That’s where all our profits and proceeds, and some of the things we’re doing here and raising money from our basketball camp,” Knoblauch added.
“From the checks and everything like that, I know they’re up around $10,000 from the outlying fundraisers. We’re gonna donate a certain amount of our proceeds from the concession stand and the gate. Our goal is in 3-5 years, to donate a whole gate to the KB Strong Foundation,” Knoblauch said.
And while this is a basketball tournament, Knoblauch says he hopes everyone knows it’s so much more than just a game.
“I hope they’re coming here, but also I hope they’re coming here for brain cancer awareness. And at the end of the day, KB. They’re here to honor KB,” Knoblauch said.