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‘I love this gym’: 70th annual Luther Invitational Tournament tips off in Regina

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‘I love this gym’: 70th annual Luther Invitational Tournament tips off in Regina
Tip-off is nearly here for the longest-running high school tournament in Canada. Our Jacob Carr has more on LIT – Feb 7, 2024

Tip-off is nearly here for the longest-running high school tournament in Canada. On Thursday, the 70th annual Luther Invitation Tournament (LIT) will begin in Regina.

The senior basketball tournament sees both boys and women’s team’s from across Western Canada compete for the title.

Grade 12 student Vishall Agasthian, part of the LIT media committee, said it is a good feeling to be part of a huge tradition.

“Unfortunately, it’s only my second LIT because of the COVID-19 years, but it’s really special being able to plant this huge event that is really historic in our school’s history and in our Regina community as well,” Agasthian said.

The tournament boosts a new theme every year where students and fans get in on the action. Themes such as the ’80s, famous movies, technology, mythology and more have all been done over the last number of years.

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This year, the Semple Gymnasium will be decorated with the theme: Cartoons.

“When you go into the gym and everybody’s cheering you just get goosebumps as soon as you walk in,” Agasthian said. “It’s an electric feeling. And all the work that we put in with artwork and all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes — It’s really special when you see everything come together at the end.”

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Students will spend significant time both during and after school getting ready to host the tournament, especially when it comes to artwork. The tournament is known for its signature pieces designed by students that line the walls of both Luther gyms as well as the hallways.

This year will also mark the celebration of the 1984 men’s team, who won the tournament after some late game heroics that year.

Bill Knusden hit the game-tying buzzer-beater, to send the game into overtime against the Leboldus Golden Suns, before Luther went on to win.

It’s a moment point guard Ken Phillips still remembers vividly.

“(Bill) was not known for shooting outside of like eight or nine feet from the basket. I think it was described as homesteading in the key,” Knusden said with a laugh. “It came down to the last inbounds… they went to throw the ball in, my teammate tipped the ball, and Bill took one dribble and shot it.”

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And while there have been many incredible buzzer-beaters and upsets throughout the seven decades, when it comes down to it, the spirit of LIT is what makes it so special, according to director Troy Casper.

“We see a lot of people coming back year in, year out and that’s the same people you become friends with through the tournament, so it’s a pretty special space,” Casper said. “I love this gym.”

LIT tips off at Luther High School on Thursday. The girls’ championship game will be played on Saturday at 6 p.m. while the boys will follow at 8 p.m.

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