Missing out on hosting the American Legion Class B tournament this summer didn’t deter Bennington coach Jamie Schleifer.
He worked with another coach to put together a 16-team postseason tournament to give teams some closure to this pandemic-affected season.
“Ever since we found out we wouldn’t have a state tournament we wanted to do something,” Schleifer said. “The players think this is pretty cool.”
The four-day tourney starts Thursday and will end with the championship game at 7 p.m. Sunday at Bennington. There will be an eight-team North Bracket and an eight-team South Bracket.
Schleifer said he and Beatrice coach Chris Belding came up with the idea.
“Not having any official district or state tournaments this summer was disappointing to everybody,” he said. “We feel that it’s pretty cool that we got teams from all over.”
Teams will be coming from as far as Alliance to compete in the event. The winner will be presented a plaque that includes an etching of the coronavirus bug.
“That’s what everybody is going to remember from this summer,” Schleifer said.
The coach said his squad has managed to avoid COVID-19 but has seen its share of injuries this summer. One pitcher underwent Tommy John surgery and another has been sidelined by a sore hamstring.
“Injuries and a tough schedule have been factors,” Schleifer said. “But we’ve had some good wins so that’s the positive part of it.”
Two of those wins came against Legion teams from Creighton Prep and Bellevue West, two of the four semifinalists in the Metro postseason tourney.
Bennington swept the Class B varsity and Legion titles last year and returned several players this year. But the 2020 spring season was canceled and Legion season was abbreviated due to COVID-19.
“Our guys are looking forward to this tournament and then hopefully we’ll have a more normal season next year,” Schleifer said.
At Bennington — Thursday: Omaha Roncalli vs. Springfield, 10 a.m.; Omaha Concordia vs. Blair, 1 p.m.; Wayne vs. Alliance, 4; Bennington vs. Wahoo, 7. Friday: Alliance vs. Concordia, 10 a.m.; Wayne vs. Concordia, 1 p.m.; Blair vs. Wayne, 4; Alliance vs. Blair, 7. Saturday: Bennington vs. Springfield, 10 a.m.; Wahoo vs. Springfield, 1 p.m.; Wahoo vs. Roncalli, 4; Bennington vs. Roncalli, 7.
At Plattsmouth — Thursday: Elkhorn Mount Michael vs. Nebraska City, 10 a.m.; Beatrice vs. Ashland, 1 p.m.; Plattsmouth vs. Waverly, 4; Auburn vs. Norris, 7. Friday: Beatrice vs. Mount Michael, 10 a.m.; Ashland vs. Nebraska City, 1 p.m.; Waverly vs. Auburn, 4; Norris vs. Plattsmouth, 7. Saturday: Norris vs. Waverly, 10 a.m.; Beatrice vs. Nebraska City, 1 p.m.; Mount Michael vs. Ashland, 4; Auburn vs. Plattsmouth, 7.
At Bennington: Semifinals at 1 and 4 p.m.; championship at 7.