LYNN — The Lynn Elementary Basketball Tournament, now in its 42nd year, is one of the staples of the community. Tournament director Sean Morris probably puts it best when he says that the tournament is one of the few happenings that always brings the whole city together.
“It’s great to be a part of something like this,” said Morris, now in his seventh year at the head of the tournament. “I always say that there’s only a couple of things that bring the whole city together, like the Christmas parade and things like that. This is one of those things. You’ve got kids from the Highlands, West Lynn, East Lynn, Diamond District and everywhere else coming to play here. They all come with smiles on their faces and have a great time competing, and it’s awesome to see.”
The tournament, which started Wednesday at Pickering Middle School, is split into four divisions (Division 1 boys, Division 1 girls, Division 2 boys and Division 2 girls) based on school enrollment. The tournament runs through March 29, when the city championships will be played. The all-star games will be played March 30.
In addition to serving as the tournament director, Morris also serves as the head coach for the Lynn Woods girls team. Balancing his directing duties with his coaching duties took some getting used to in the first few years, but at this point Morris pretty much has it down pat.
“It certainly took some time to get used to it at first, but for the most part I try to schedule our games for later in the day so I can focus on the tournament most of the time until it’s time to coach,” Morris said. “It also depends on how deep we go in the tournament. When we won it a couple years ago I would say I was probably a little more focused on the team than the tournament, but then if you get eliminated early you can focus your attention on the tournament. So it all balances out.”
One of the main themes of the tournament every year is teamwork and that sentiment is not lost on Morris, who gave a shout-out to all of the volunteers who help make the tournament run smoothly.
“I’m pretty much running everything in terms of teams and players and coaches, but we have Lauren Powers running the door and really making sure everything goes smoothly on that end, which is a huge help. Lauren’s daughter Ashley and my brother Brendan (Morris) also help out at the table with scoring and things like that, and then we have the administrators and the custodians at the school who work with us as well to make sure everything runs smoothly. It’s truly a team effort.”
Wednesday was the first day of the tournament, with three first-round games getting played to kick off the action.
The day’s first game pitted the Lady Hornets of Harrington against Hood’s Lady Hawks. Harrington broke out to an early lead and never looked back en route to the 21-4 victory. Harrington’s Jayleen Novas and Camila Rufinos each had eight points in the win. Angie Niz Lopez and Nakiiyah Womack each scored two points for Hood. Harrington plays Tracy next Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The first boys game of the tournament was a Division 1 matchup between Tracy and Sisson. Tracy held a slim two-point lead going into the half but opened the second frame on a 10-0 run to take a 20-8 lead. Sisson countered with an 11-0 run of its own to make it a one point game with less than two minutes left. With Sisson trailing by one, Johan Plaza (nine points) attempted the game winning jump shot as time expired. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the ball hit both sides of the rim and then fell to the side, giving Tracy the 25-24 victory. Yaniel Belliard chopped in five points in the loss. Johan Tavares scored eight points for Tracy despite being in foul trouble for most of the second half. Tracy’s Cameron Weaver led all scorers with 12 points. Tracy will play Connery next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
In the last game of the day, Lynn Woods prevailed over Aborn in a defensive struggle, 10-2. Aborn’s Isabella Walcott and Lynn Woods’ Madison Desilets and Lily Mancaniello had a basket apiece while the Lady Wolves Katie Tartarini lead all scorers with six points.
Play resumes tomorrow with four more games at Pickering beginning at 3:15 p.m.