Of course I, like everyone at Local Sports Journal, wishes the best of luck to the Muskegon Big Reds and Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders when they play for state football titles this weekend.

Gunn-column-logo-1And, of course, LSJ will have a full crew of reporters at Ford Field to cover all the action.

But I won’t be there. That’s because it’s almost time for prep basketball, and I’ll be back home helping to put the finishing touches on our special high school basketball preview section.

As a first-year member of the LSJ crew, I was pleasantly surprised to learn we publish a basketball preview section. It’s about time someone did.

I remember back a few decades, when I was an elementary student, and Reeths-Puffer High School sports were the center of my universe.

Varsity football and basketball seemed like pro sports to my buddies and me. The high school kids on the field and court seemed like genuine superstars. We rarely missed a home game, and often found a way to get one of our parents to haul us around to road games in the area.

Nothing kicked off the prep season like the Muskegon Chronicle’s old high school football preseason tab. It was just the thing to get a young fan’s blood moving on the eve of a new season.

Later, when I worked at the Chronicle, it became obvious that the football section was one of the most popular items the newspaper published every year.

I remember thinking back then – geez, why didn’t the Chronicle publish the same type of preseason section for prep basketball? While prep football has always been king in Muskegon County, we’ve had plenty of great hoop teams over the years at a lot of different schools, and a lot of fan interest.

The Chronicle never did get around to publishing a hoops preview section, but LSJ did last season, and received a great response. More than 2,000 copies sold in the area, despite the fact that it was a brand new product that local fans weren’t accustomed to looking for.

This year’s version will be even better, with previews of every area girls and boys team, a Jim Moyes column on the history of prep hoops in the area, a special salute to the Grand Haven girls team’s back-to-back state titles, and a full schedule of all the games for the coming season.

We have posted a pre-order box on localsportsjournal.com, beginning this week, for fans who would like a copy sent to them by mail. We’re also making them available to local high schools at a discount price. School officials (or anyone else, for that matter) interested in purchasing at least 20 copies can email us at [email protected].

We’re encouraging sports fans throughout the area to pick up a copy of the basketball preview, which will cost a mere $3. It will give readers a chance to find out who’s who in area hoops this winter, and what teams have a legitimate chance to compete for state honors.

The section will also list every player on every area team, so the kids who have been working their butts off can see their names in print and get a little credit, whether they’re starters or the last players off the bench.

Proceeds from the tab will also help Local Sports Journal maintain its coverage of area sports. LSJ is only in its second year of existence, and our budget is very tight. We are basically a staff of local journalists working for next to nothing to cover the games and tell the stories of our local athletes.

We don’t need a lot of revenue to keep doing what we’re doing, but like any organization we have to cover costs. The money we make on the basketball tab will go a long way toward achieving that goal for the winter sports season.

So thank you in advance for your support. We hope you enjoy our basketball preview section, and we’ll see you at the games this winter!