BEATRICE - A southeast Nebraska basketball tournament, over 90 years in the making, is set to write another chapter next week. The 2023 MUDECAS basketball tournament begins in Beatrice on Monday.

Southern Elementary School principal Jerry Rempe serves as director of the MUDECAS girls basketball tournament and serves as an assistant director for the boys tournament. For Rempe, MUDECAS can be summed up with one word: tradition.

“For the area, it’s been something that’s been huge tradition in the area for many years,” Rempe said. “It’s just been something the people look forward to…. You look up in the stands and there’s people rom many different communities who come. It’s a tradition that people come and watch games all week. I call it a mini state tournament.”

A total of 32 teams from southeast Nebraska will compete in this years tournament. All games will be played in Beatrice, at both the Beatrice Middle School and the famous Beatrice Auditorium. Rempe says this helps the Beatrice economy, but the town also serves as a hub for many several southeast Nebraska communities.

“It does a great economic input to Beatrice, but I think it also rallies everybody to one community, for one week, you play several games,” Rempe said.

The entire tournament is put on thanks to volunteers from the Beatrice KIWANIS club. Rempe says the tournament isn’t possible without them.

“You see the games go on, the crowd’s cheering, you see this and that going on, but no one has any idea that we’re short popcorn, we’re short pop, the officials need this or that,” Rempe said. “They’re there to help and make sure the tournament goes on without a hitch… They’re great to work with.”

The tournament comes smack dab in the middle of the season. As a former girls basketball coach at Southern for 25 years, Rempe talked about the importance of the tournament to the seasons of teams competing.

“You have a holiday tournament, but this is your second step to see how you’re team is doing,” Rempe said. “Whether you’re having a good season or a bad season, you still want to see how you’re doing… Everyone kind of looks at this and tech communities take a look to see how their team is doing, there’s a lot of quality teams.”

Games will be broadcasted on local radio stations KWBE-Beatrice  (94.7 FM, 1450 AM) as well as Ol’ Red 99.5. The championship games can be viewed on NCN.