BELEN — Valencia County will be a busy place over the Memorial Day weekend with the return of the Kenny Thomas I-25 Showcase Basketball Tournament.
The youth basketball tournament will feature 206 teams, with an estimated 1,600 players taking part from across the region, including Mexico, with 80 officials at the different locations.
Numerous facilities in Valencia County and others in Albuquerque will be used for games May 27-28.
During Monday night’s Belen City Council meeting, Joshua Kerns, the city’s Parks and Recreation and Community and Economic Development director, gave an update on the tournament, saying this will be the largest since he started the event in 2018. He expects between $300,000 to $400,000 will be spent in Valencia County during the tournament with people shopping, eating at local restaurants and buying gas.
Not only will the city of Belen benefit financially from the tournament, but local youth athletic programs will be fundraising during the tournament.
Thomas, the University of New Mexico basketball great and retired NBA player, works with the city of Belen to put on the tournament, now in its fifth year. He told the council it’s a “great opportunity” to be in Belen, and to help bring the tournament to the Hub City.
Thomas said he hopes to continue to build the tournament, and said it is a great way for high school athletes to showcase their talents to interested colleges.
The first-place team in the tournament will receive a custom-made trophy made by Travertine, and a signed basketball from Thomas.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.