PENDLETON - The youth basketball tournament action in Umatilla County continues this weekend with the 10th annual U.S. Bank AAU Clash at the Border, held in gymnasiums throughout Pendleton.
This is the second AAU tourney in the county this month, following the Best of the West held in Hermiston, Echo and Stanfield. Sixty boys and girls teams of sixth- through eighth-graders from Oregon, Washington and Idaho will compete in the Clash Friday-Sunday, with the final game to tip off at approximately 1 p.m. Sunday.
"The range of abilities of these teams goes from novice to elite," said Pat Kennedy, director of the Pendleton Convention Center, one of the sites for the Clash. "Within each division (by grade level), we try to pair teams based on their ability level."
The less-experienced teams will face those of the same ability level, Kennedy explained, instead of facing stronger teams in the early pairings.
Tournament director Jim Johnson and Kennedy said the Clash is an opportunity for area AAU teams to compete and not have to travel.
"(The tourney) is good for the other teams to come and see how we do things here," Johnson added.
Each year, Pendleton has seen an economic benefit from the Clash, as visiting teams stop by the town's restaurants and lodge, tourney committee member Lynette Gilliland said.
The youth and high school basketball programs in Pendleton benefit from the Clash as well. Proceeds help benefit scholarships for one male senior and one female senior who play basketball at Pendleton High. The youth programs also receive funds from the Clash.
Last year's tourney netted about $10,000, Kennedy said.
The teams compete for first- and second-place medals donated by the Rotary Club, Gilliland added.
Games will be played at Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton High, the Convention Center, Sunridge Middle School, Helen McCune Recreation Center and the Round-Up Athletic Club.
Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children.