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Joe Pete Alumni Tournament a success once again

Apr. 13—The Joe Pete Alumni Basketball Tournament provided a night of scholarships, fun and good, competitive play.

Last Friday's tournament was the third straight year of the event, since it was brought back.

"We feel we have a good process," said Andy Juhola, one of the organizers of the tournament. "For a third year in a row, we had 16 teams. It starts with that, and then all the volunteers and assistance with all the other details makes this a special night."

The tournament is in the honor of Pete, a local radio personality who died in 2012.

"We raised just under $6,000 on the event," Juhola said. "Very similar numbers each of the three years."

In addition, Mike Donato, of Just in Time Staffing, contributed $6,000 in matching scholarship money the last two years.

"After this spring, our total rewarded to high school seniors will be $24,000 the last two school years," Juhola said. "We are very proud of that."

On the court, a group of Edgewood graduates won the 30 and under game for a third straight year, edging out a Lakeside squad 49-48.

The Edgewood team had a comfortable lead, but Lakeside's Brandon Ford turned up the intensity on both ends of the court.

Lakeside drew to within one point, but Most Valuable Player Tye Rood and Edgewood prevailed.

"I am honored and grateful for the MVP award," Rood said. "I have great teammates who don't mind making the extra pass and being team players. We complement each other, which is part of the magic of our team."

Rood said it was nice to face familiar foes for the title.

"Lakeside has a lot of good players, and I'm glad the championship game was a nail-biter," he said. "It's always awesome seeing the crowd getting into it."

Rood is already looking forward to next year's event, and striving for a fourth straight title

"The Joe Pete Tournament is for a great cause, and I wouldn't miss it," he said.

In the 30 and over contest, Lakeside earned a 49-44 overtime victory over Edgewood.

The Dragons led most of the game, but Adam Schumann and Riley Kreischer paced the Edgewood comeback.

Kreischer's three-pointer with just seconds left sent the game into overtime.

The overtime period was played using the Elam ending-no clock, and the first team to seven was declared the winner.

Cody Blizzard started with an old-fashioned three-point for the Dragons, then Emilio Parks and Ace Jones put the game away. Jones hit free throws for the winning points.

"It's always an honor to come home and show the city that we can still play at a high level," said Parks, who snared MVP honors of the 30 and over game. "I play basketball every day still and to be playing at a high level consistently is a blessing."

Parks loves the Joe Pete tournament.

"It's fulfilling to be able to come home and play still," he said. "I believe we need the basketball culture to come back to Ashtabula County. The older I get, the harder it is seeing nobody playing as much as I used to play as a kid."

Juhola said splitting up responsibilities helps to the tournament run more smoothly.

"Abby [Pete, Joe's daughter] and her family have a real passion and desire to keep going what Joe started so long ago," Juhola said. "It drives all of us and in the end, we are rewarding student-athletes for their hard work and dedication. That's what Joe did and that's what we will continue to do.

"A very special thank you to Joe's parents, Mary Anne and Joe. They miss their son so much and participate during the tournament as volunteers from start to finish to make this a Pete tradition. They are wonderful people."

Juhola doesn't know what next year's tournament will look like.

"With Joe's daughters, anything is possible," he said. "They are so creative and driven, everyone will have to wait and see."