B y Jaime Thomas
An event bringing together sports and the community in the name of charity will take place once again this weekend at the 34th annual American Legion basketball tournament.
Boys teams from four schools—Granville, Fort Ann, Hadley-Luzerne and Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland, Vt.—will play against each other in a friendly competition over two days.
“The kids always look forward to it; I always look forward to it. A lot of people show up and they should; it’s a good time,” said Horde Coach Duane Dodge.
He thinks the four teams should be evenly matched.
“They’re close, very equal. Any of the teams could win, so it should be fun,” he said. As of Friday, both Fort Ann and Hadley-Luzerne were standing at 2-2 in the Adirondack League and overall. Granville, meanwhile, was 1-4 in the Wasaren League and 1-5 overall. And Mount St. Joseph is 1-1 overall in Vermont.
Though organizers tried to rotate competition in the past, they’re now locked into Fort Ann versus Luzerne and Granville versus Mount St. Joseph, in order to comply with league requirements.
Last year, inclement weather pushed the event back, but between two storms players and fans alike flocked to the court. This week’s forecast so far looks clear.
The Legion created the event as a way to raise money in the community, said Tournament Coordinator Ed Hayes. After expenses the organization nets about $500, which goes back into scholarships for local students.
He said the tournament draws local fans and those from the other team’s communities.
“It’s really nice. A lot of college kids like to come home to it; it’s pretty exciting. It’s probably the longest running tournament in the area by far, I believe.”
The tournament is a fun opportunity for the students as well. The Legion provides Bernardo’s pizza for all the players and cheerleaders, who can also all participate for free. All the varsity players get t-shirts as does the winning junior varsity team. And on the second night, the Legion gives out an award for all-tournament and most valuable player.
For those coming to watch the fee is $3 for adults and $2 for children; the American Legion Riders will sell food as well.
The tournament will kick off with junior varsity action, with Fort Ann and Hadley-Luzerne playing at noon and Granville taking on MSJ at 1:30 on Friday. That evening, Fort Ann and Luzerne will kick off varsity play at 6 p.m., and the Horde will play the Green Wave at 7:30.
The winners will play a Saturday night championship at 7:30 p.m., and the other two teams compete in a consolation game at 6.