The Luther Invitational Basketball Tournament (LIT) began in 1953 on the initiative of John Chomay, the athletic director and senior boys' basketball coach. As far as we know, LIT is the longest continuously running basketball tournament in Western Canada.
LIT Started as a sixteen team tournament held on a Saturday. All the participating teams were from Southern Saskatchewan. To win LIT in 1953 a team needed to win all four games they played in a single day. To accommodate the number of games required, some preliminary round games were played cross court and two games proceeded at the same time. It was an interesting arrangement for teams, scorekeepers, referees and fans.
The Luther Lions won the tournament championship that first year, an accomplishment that was not repeated by the Lions for 31 years, in 1984. The Lions won the tournament again in 1990 and then after a 16 year period won the tournament for the fourth time in 2006.
Over the ensuing years many significant changes have been made to the tournament. One of the most significant changes has been the involvement of our students in organizing the tournament. Today about 150 students are directly involved in the organization of the tournament with the majority of our 440 students lending a hand wherever they may.
The number of teams taking part in the tournament was reduced to eight teams in 1954 and the tournament became a two day affair. In 1981 the present three-day tournament format was introduced. A three-day tournament provides an opportunity to conduct a number of tournament-related activities, in addition to the fact that each team is guaranteed a game on each of the three days.
The Tournament begins Thursday afternoon with a pep rally at which all the teams are in attendance. A social is held either the Thursday or Friday night for Luther students, all participants and guests. The tournaments' festivities are culminated by a banquet at noon on Saturday.
In 1986, the idea of holding a tournament of Regina's top eight teams to select Regina's two entries to LIT was proposed. This idea was endorsed and accepted by the high school teams and thus a two day pre-LIT tournament has been held in mid-January each year.
Although each tournament stands out in many ways, particularly to the organizing committees to the participants and to our graduating students, two major successes come to mind. Firstly, in our country's centennial year, 1967, all provinces from British Columbia through Quebec were represented in the tournament. The Sudbury Blue Devils won the championship that year, defeating the Raymond Comets in the championship game. Secondly, to celebrate our 40th annual LIT, the final four games were played at Brandt Centre (formerly known as the Regina Agridome) before a final game crowd of 3,000 basketball fans. The celebration was a terrific success, but it was felt we should return the tournament to our gym the following year.
In 2002, a special effort was undertaken to celebrate the 50th annual L.I.T. Discussions had been going on for a year prior to the 50th anniversary to decide if the school administration, students and the alumni wished to come together to organize a more extensive celebration of the tournament. With the students approval in May of 2001, a group of faculty, alumni and friends began to organize the 50th anniversary of the tournament. It was decided that we would invite back as many past participants as we could. In order to accomodate this increased gathering, six of the tournament games were moved to the Brandt Centre. In addition, a social on Friday and a dance on Saturday evening were held at the Queensbury Cenre. The weekend turned out to be an outstanding success, and those who were able to attend had a great time.
This tournament would not have become the success it has without the whole hearted support of faculty, students, alumni, parents, fans and friends. If the tournament leaves a legacy beyond the outstanding basketball that is displayed, it is a legacy of student participation in organizing the tournament and the good sportsmanship displayed by players, coaches and fans.
We would like to thank all of our students, faculty, parents, friends and all participants who have helped make LIT so memorable!