COLUMBIA — After the first day of competition in the Norm Stewart Classic, more than $1,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society.
"We raised much more than I ever anticipated," said Gary Filbert, executive secretary of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association, which worked with Coaches vs. Cancer to hold the event at Columbia College.
Filbert said when he set out to organize the event, he wanted to raise money as well as gather some of the state's strongest basketball programs for two days of tough competition.
"Our goal was to bring in the best teams we could," Filbert said, "We wanted teams that were competitive and that also brought with them a large following."
Competition was strong in the event's opening game. The Rock Bridge girls basketball team, the reigning state champion, defeated Kickapoo 47-42.
The St. Joseph Academy girls basketball team easily defeated Hickman in the second game of the afternoon.
The Moberly and Kirkwood boys basketball teams played a game that went down to the buzzer, with Moberly winning 65-63.
In the final competition, Jefferson City beat Marquette 59-54.
Filbert said he had counted on the Columbia schools, as well as teams like Moberly to bring in a small fan base, but attendance was far greater than he anticipated.
"Moberly brought out a huge crowd, I thought" Filbert said, "They nearly filled an entire section, it was definitely bigger than I expected."
The event's honoree, former Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart, was on hand for the tip-off of each game. He also spoke to the crowd at half time during each of Saturday's four games, encouraging people to donate whatever they could to the cause, while buckets were passed through the stands.
Filbert said the idea for the partnership with Coaches vs. Cancer, was presented to the MBCA by board president Jay Blossum a year ago.
Filbert, then reached out to his "lifelong friend," and former teammate, Norm Stewart for help with the task. Filbert and Stewart played basketball together for Missouri during the 1953 and 1954 seasons.
"I met with Norm about the idea, and he was very interested in it," Filbert said.
As a result, the MBCA teamed up with Coaches vs. Cancer, an organization founded by Stewart following his own cancer diagnoses, to make Blossum's fundraising aspirations a reality.
"I think it's definitely going to be an annual thing," Filbert said.
The second day of the Norm Stewart Classic begins at 2:30 pm Sunday, with Harrisburg vs. Glendale boys basketball game, followed by Hickman vs. Poplar Bluff boys basketball game at 4 p.m. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults, at the door. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.