Proviso West’s big gamble

The expanded Proviso West Holiday tournament will include a second temporary court constructed in the school’s fieldhouse.

Proviso West graduate Joe Spagnolo (pictured right) has been involved in the 52nd annual Proviso West Holiday tournament since 1981. Now the longtime tournament director has introduced his boldest experiment yet.

It was Spagnolo’s idea 1 1/2 years ago to expand the 16-team tournament into a 32-team tournament. The idea would expand the tournament by one day, but would also include the building of a second temporary court with seating inside the school’s fieldhouse.

The event is being billed as “61 Games, 32 Teams, 6 Days, 2 Courts — All Under One Roof.”

The first round alone will take two days to be played, according to the bracket released Monday in a media event that included an internet audience aired on HighSchoolCube.com.

If running one tournament from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. wasn’t enough, Spagnolo is crazy enough to try running two tournaments at the same time in the same building.

He has also decided to add his first out-of-state team to the tournament when Crespi Carmelite of Encino, Calif. opens against newcomer Bogan at 7 p.m. Dec. 26. Crespi was a Final Four team in Southern California last year and is led by Virginia-bound point guard London Perrantes.

Spagnolo said the construction of the fieldhouse court is among many concerns about the expanded tournament. Another new addition will be an interactive festival for fans in the fieldhouse.

The installation of the temporary court is headed by independent contractor John Hasmeyer, who convinced Spagnolo that the project could be done by Spagnolo’s standards, which included a college-sized court trucked in, new baskets, a new scoreboard and drop-down curtains. The temporary court is expected to be built by Dec. 21 and Spagnolo has encouraged all tournament teams to come by and shoot on the court Dec. 22 before it is used for the first time on Dec. 27. The first game on the fieldhouse court features the loser between Westinghouse-Downers South or Homewood-Flossmoor-CICS Ellison at 8:30 a.m.

“My goal is to have people say, ‘Why didn’t we think of this earlier?'” Spagnolo said.

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