Basketball tournaments resonates with area players

Apr. 9—JEFFERSON — High school coaches often talk about making sports a lifetime experience.

Basketball is a game that draws people together, and many area alumni keep finding that camaraderie decades after walking off the high school court for the last time.

The Joe Pete Annual Scholarship Basketball Tournament, which took place over the weekend, offered another option for basketball players from 18 to over 50 years of age.

Many players still gathered with their high school teammates more than 25 years after their last game.

The tournament, which took place at Jefferson Area High School, included two divisions, 30 and under and over 30.

Many players have been assisted by area volunteers and organizations that continue to provide older players the opportunity to play basketball.

For decades, the West Side Shootout has brought players together on the July 4 weekend to hang out with friends and compete at a high level once again.

The tournament has become the focus of the community during the summer holiday.

A variety of other opportunities have been created for alumni to play more than once a year.

Andy Juhola, one of the Joe Pete tournament organizers, said the Ashtabula County YMCA has a 16 week fall-winter league for players 30 and over.

"Most of these guys play in that league," he said.

Rashaad Bell, a Lakeside High School graduate, said he loved playing over weekend with high school friends, but would like to see more tournaments throughout the year.

"Every school should have one," Bell said.

Emilio Parks, also a Lakeside High School graduate, has stepped up and sponsored a summer tournament at his alma mater. He is hoping to expand the event this summer.

Parks spent almost a decade playing professional basketball all over the world, and said he likes to give back to his hometown.

Parks said he is living in Charlotte and misses playing professional basketball, but got a job he loves back in the United States.

"I'm playing almost every day," Parks said of his participation in a semi-pro, recreation and other leagues.

He said he is working out details for the tournament and is planning to have a youth camp as well this summer.