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Joe Pete Alumni Tournament to be played on Friday

Apr. 3—Family is one of the reasons Abby Pete moved back to the area.

The Jefferson graduate had lived in New York City after graduating in 2015.

"I was gone for eight years," Pete said. "During the pandemic, I thought about my family."

Pete returned home to reconnect with her family.

Her own family, and her Jefferson family, has taken the reins of the Joe Pete Memorial Basketball Tournament.

The event, which is in its third year since the restart, is scheduled for Friday at Jefferson High School.

"The whole family is there for the event," Abby Pete said. "It's important for me to be around."

Two basketball games — one for players 30 and under and the other 30 and older — will lace up the sneakers to honor Joe Pete and raise money.

One of the under 30 teams will consist of a current group of high school seniors, which includes Jacob Ernst, of Edgewood, and Ashtabula County Player of the Year Joe DeGeorge, of Jefferson.

"We plan to have two eight-team, single-elimination brackets," said Andy Juhola, one of the organizers of the event. "The money raised will be used to support scholarships to graduating high school senior scholar athletes in our county.

"Last year, we were able to distribute $12,000 in scholarships in the memory of Joe "Pigskin" Pete and his family."

DeGeorge is excited to go against other players in the county.

"I think it's going to be a really fun event, especially playing against a few of my former teammates, and all the other alums in the county," DeGeorge said. "I think that's going to make the games more competitive and fun."

In addition, Mike Donato, of Just In Time Staffing, is matching $6,000 in scholarship awards for a total of $12,000.

Athletes from Edgewood swept the competition last year.

"The Joe Pete Tournament is an amazing tournament," said Edgewood graduate Marcus Ernst, who played on the winning under-30 team last year. "The Petes are great people, and the event is one of the best basketball events Ashtabula has.

"It's fun playing with alumni friends and being able to help support the scholarships put together by the Pete family."

Ernst is also looking forward to the competition.

"There will be a younger all-star team this year, with some current high school guys, so hopefully we can pull off another championship run with the seasoned vets we have on our roster and don't let the young bucks run wild."

Abby Pete said her father, Joe Pete, was passionate about high school sports. He died in 2012.

"His mission was to always see sports bringing people together, and merging academics with athletics," she said. "We have the scholarship to keep his vision alive."

Juhola said Pete has been a welcome addition to the planning committee.

"This lady is taking this to a whole new level," he said. "She has great ideas."

Juhola said Jefferson is the perfect place to hold the event.

"There's a two-gym set up," he said.

In addition to her own family, Abby Pete said there's plenty of help in planning and executing the event.

"We have the Montanaro family, the Juholas," she said. "John Montanaro was one of my dad's best friends. We're super-grateful for the support."

Competition is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

Tickets are $7 at the door.