AAU BASKETBALL: Hoops Classic brings hordes to Hermiston

<p>Pendleton's Big John's Pizza 5th grade boys basketball team went 6-0 to win the Holiday Hoops Classic in Hermiston on Dec. 7-8. BACK ROW (Left to Right): Dakota Sams, Ruger Deming, Buck Weilert, Parker Persinger and Zack Rabb. FRONT ROW (L-R): Greyson Sams, Reuben Bronson, Teal Soaringeagle, Tyasin Burns and Tucker Zander.</p>

HERMISTON — Except for the dominant showing by out-of-state teams, the 4th Annual Holiday Hoops Classic AAU tournament went off without a hitch this past weekend in Hermiston.

Nearly 100 youth basketball teams in grades 3-8 from Oregon, Washington and Idaho crowded the courts in Hermiston on Dec. 7-8 for one of the largest AAU?tournaments in the region.

More often than not, one of the many clubs from the Tri-Cities hoisted the championship trophy, but Pendleton-based Big John’s Pizza broke up the Washington winning streak in the boys’ 5th grade title game.

Big John’s beat Gunners Green of Richland, Wash., 46-29 in the final game to win a title for the locals.

Hermiston’s boys 7th grade team made their championship as well after going 3-0 to win their pool, then beating the KBC Braves 43-37 in the semifinals. They ended up falling to Gunners Green 53-34.

On the girls’ side of the tournament, Cay-Uma-Wa out of Mission raced to the 8th grade title 63-54 over AZONE (Athletic Zone of Boise, Idaho).

All other age groups were won by teams from the Tri-Cities.

Tournament information director Larry Usher was pleased with the results.

“It was another great weekend for Hermiston youth basketball,” he said. “It’s been our goal to grow this program, and over the past few years we’ve been able to do that through these tournaments.”

Usher said the weather, which was a factor for some other local sporting events during the weekend, didn’t negatively impact the tournament.

“For the most part, the weather didn’t appear to be a problem,” he said. “Either teams came over Friday afternoon before the storm, or they came over during the morning on Saturday.”

In the past decade Hermiston has became a hub for youth AAU tournaments. Usher said the facilities and the location have created the opportunity to host these large events.

“First of all, we have a ton of great gyms and facilities in Hermiston,” he said. “More importantly, the gyms are all fairly close together, which means getting from location to location is a lot easier than it is for other area tournaments. That’s why we’ve had some success here.”

The next AAU tournament in Hermiston will be The Best of the West event in late January.

Dates and locations are to be determined.

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