LYNN — The Lynn Parks and Recreation Summer Basketball League tipped off its first day of events Monday at the Breed Middle School outdoor courts in front of a big crowd of players, parents and volunteers, with over 150 signups on just the first day alone. League organizer Fred Hogan says it couldn’t have gone any better.
“It was just a great first night,” Hogan, who has helped with the running of this tournament for over 20 years now, said. “We got six games in on the first day and we had a great turnout. It was great to see all the kids and the parents come out to support the league and take advantage of what the city if offering here.”
What the city is offering, courtesy of Lisa Nerich and the Lynn Parks and Recreation Department, is a free summer basketball league for kids ranging from elementary school to high school. After starting out in only West Lynn playing at the Breed courts twice a week, about 10 years ago the league expanded to East Lynn as well, hosting two days of games per week at the outdoor courts outside Lynn English.
The result, Hogan says, is a fun city-wide league that not only keeps the kids of Lynn out of trouble during the summer but also provides the younger kids with motivation to improve after watching older teams playing later in the night.
“The best part is that all of the kids hang around the whole time pretty much,” Hogan said. “The elementary kids like to watch the older kids play, as do the middle school kids. It gives them something to strive for to get better watching older, more experienced guys playing out there.”
And let’s not forget the part about keeping the kids out of trouble.
“People always ask me why I keep doing this after more than 20 years, and I tell them that I enjoy it at this point because it keeps me close to the kids so they know me and I know them,” Hogan said. “Then, if I’m driving around town and I see someone I know doing something wrong I can stop and say ‘hey, cut it out.'”
And of course, the league wouldn’t be able to function without the help of a number of volunteers and sponsors. In addition to Hogan and his tournament co-organizer Jeff Byrd, Gianni Ferrari, Kenny Turner, LaShonda Hogan and countless others donate their time to referee games, coach teams, keep score and do everything else required to run the tournament.
“A lot of these people don’t have to do this, but they do it because they know how good this is for the kids,” Hogan said.
As for the sponsors, you’d be hard pressed to find a local Lynn business that isn’t sponsoring a team in the tournament. From Pizza Lovers to Panakio Adjusters, from Solimine Funeral Home to Lynn Firefighters Local 739 and everywhere in between, the city of Lynn remains fully behind this tournament.
“To be honest, we can’t even take on anymore sponsors because the ones we’ve had over the years want to keep coming back every year,” Hogan said. “It’s a good problem to have.”
The tournament will continue in West Lynn back at Breed Tuesday before moving over to East Lynn for games Wednesday and Thursday at English.
Six games were played across three divisions Monday night. In elementary school action, Xtreme Silkscreen thumped Lynn Firefighters, 33-21. Giovanni Jean (11 points) and DeShawn Rucker (eight points) led Xtreme, while Daryll Reynolds scored five points to lead Lynn Firefighters. Also in the elementary division, Pizza Lovers earned a 30-18 win over Cuff McGinn. Deono Kabongo led Pizza Lovers with nine points while Kameron Rucker scored nine points for Cuff McGinn. In the middle school division, Gannon Building Association won 60-44 over Columbia Insurance. Oliver Gravely (10 points, three rebounds, two assists) and Jael Brooks (12 points, one assist) paced the winning side. Columbia was led by Lionel Rivera (18 points, five assists, three rebounds) and Yael Vizcaino (six points). Also in middle school action, Buzzy Barton earned a 30-22 win over Ram Electric. Ram was led by Jansyel Hernandez (11 points, three rebounds, one assist) and James Tavares (10 points, two rebounds). Buzzy Barton was powered by Wally Florencio’s 18 points and Victor Mafo’s 11 points. In the high school division, Panakio Adjusters won 27-22 over Wood and Associates. Kyjuan Anderson scored 15 points for Wood and Associates, while Hector Celado tallied nine points and six rebounds for Panakio Adjusters. Also in the high school division, Committee to Elect took down Dartoworld Inc. with a 60-55 victory. Natural Allen (24 points) and Diego Lopes (22 points) drove Committee to Elect. Oliver Gravely scored 14 points with seven rebounds and two assists, while Ali Barry added 12 points and two assists for Dartworld Inc.
This year’s basketballs were donated in memory of former Lynn English High School baseball and boys basketball coach Ron Bennett, who died in March. Scoreboard results are sponsored through Mayor Thomas M. McGee.