West Side Basketball Shootout to be played this weekend

Diontez May drives to the basket with Harry Story (right) defending during last year’s West Side Shootout at the West Avenue basketball courts in Ashtabula.

The annual West Side Basketball Shootout will be played this weekend at MFG Unity Park.

The tournament, which has been held for more than a quarter-century, is slated to begin on Friday around 4:30 p.m., said Bill Osborne, who helps run the tournament with his brother, Mike.

The 3-point shootout and the girls warm-up game will be played on Friday. The men’s tournament kicks off Friday at roughly 8 a.m.

“We’re hoping to have around 12 teams and we have teams coming from Akron, Columbus, Youngstown, Warren and Cleveland,” Osborne said. “We’re going to have a couple very strong local teams, too.”

Last year’s tournament was one for the ages. In the championship game, Alex Heath, who grew up in Ashtabula before moving to Cleveland, walked the ball up to midcourt and let it fly.

Before the shot, his team sat two points away from the title. After the shot, it was all over. Heath’s teammates included former Lakeside Dragons Antonio Harris and Ceon Howell, Carlos Cancel, Rafael Cancel and Alan Dunbar.

“I’m not sure if we can duplicate what Alex Heath did last year, but we’re excited because we know that we’re going to have some very competitive teams,” Osborne said. “We’re excited this year and we’re looking next year to grow it with more girls and we’d like to get an elementary school section going as well. We’re going to try to expand it and we’re looking for a few more people to step in and help us register next year.”

Marcus Ernst, a 2017 Edgewood graduate, competed last year.

“I think the competition’s been good for the past few years and everything,” he said after the 2018 tournament. “It’s just fun to get out here and play on the blacktop and everything. It’s real competitive.”

Kurt Snyder, of Ashtabula, is the reigning 3-point contest champion and has won three of the last four.

“I’d like to invite everyone in the community to come out,” Osborne said. “If you didn’t see the ending of the tournament last year, you missed a really great tournament and we’re going to try and duplicate it this year. So, come out, bring your lawn chairs and your food and plan on spending the day with us at the West Side Shootout.”

Prior to Saturday’s play, a tribute will be held in honor of the late Jaime Presciano.

“Jaime Presciano was a local athlete in Ashtabula and he played in the shootout last year and I think he won it twice,” Osborne said. “So, prior to the tournament on Saturday, we’re having a piece of artwork dedicated to Jaime and his family and we are having a moment of silence and we hope that all of Jaime’s friends will come out and share that moment with his family as well.”