ASHTABULA — Cell-phone flashlights, car headlights and sparse backyard fireworks illuminated the West Avenue basketball courts during Saturday’s West-Side Shootout championship, but eventually the darkness loomed too large.
The result? Co-champions.
The Headhunters — made up of Cody Blizzard, Marcus Ernst, Ceon Howell, Sam Jerman, Tye Rood, Brevin White and Braeden White — entered the title game after going through the loser’s bracket, where they were sent to after an earlier loss to the Ringers — Emelio Parks, Alex Heath, Antonio Harris, Harry Story, Anthony Hargrove and Dy.
The Headhunters avenged their earlier defeat with a 13-10 triumph in the first title-game matchup — the double-elimination style tournament required two wins from the Headhunters or one from the Ringers to crown a champion.
In the winner-take-all game, though, time just ran out — the tournament also lost an hour of time after a medical incident earlier in the day.
“We had a lot of things that happened today, we tried some new things today that took up a little more time and we had the emergency,” said Mike Osborne, who runs the Shootout with his brother, Bill. “... I understand people have jobs and commitments and they may not be able to come back (today for a continuation of the game), but we did what we thought was fair. We did a co-championship split. Two teams won. That’s the best we could do since they weren’t able to come back (today).”
Parks, who missed last year’s Shootout because he was playing professional basketball in Puerto Rico, helped lead his team to an undefeated record prior to the title game in his comeback appearance.
He was upset the
two teams did not get to finish what they started.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get the chance to finish the way you’re supposed to finish,” Parks said. “It carried over too late. … The experience was not the same as it was a couple years ago when I played — we got it done by 6:30 and we were ready to do our thing.”
Despite the unforeseen events that led to the eventual tie, the Shootout showed why it is one of the most looked-forward-to events of the summer.
Saturday’s Shootout lasted nearly 12 hours, but the court was never empty. Spectators packed the sidelines and even more people traced the outer-fencing to watch some of the area’s best — and a number of athletes from all over Ohio — go to battle.
“It’s good because the whole community comes out to watch and everyone that’s in the tournament just comes out and puts on a show for the community,” Howell said.
Howell won last year’s Shootout alongside Heath and Harris, both of whom he faced in this year’s title game. During the first meeting between the two teams, Howell got his hands on a shot attempt from Harris, who is also a former Lakeside teammate of Howell’s.
“I just seen him get the ball and I’m behind him, so I jumped, blocked it and I was just like ‘Yeah, give me that!’” Howell said.
St. John boys basketball coach Curtis Turner made his return to the Shootout, too. He not only got to enjoy playing again, but he shared the court with a number of people who he has coached against in the high school ranks.
“I decided to give it one more year, come out of retirement,” he said with a laugh. “It was fun. The heat wasn’t fun, but I’m happy that I came out to play with a lot of guys that I haven’t played with in a long time.
“The athleticism and the talent out here is ridiculous and a lot of people don’t get to really see that from Ashtabula kids. There is a lot of talent in this area.”
The boys title
was won by Donte Jackson, Sean McKee, Delsean Koski, Angelo Collazo, Dasjaun Williams, Gianni Maley and Kayden Hettsmensberger.
Overall, Osborne enjoyed the day filled with basketball.
“It was great, it was great,” he said. “People enjoyed it. We had great basketball. We had great basketball all week.”