July 2, 2007
By Joe Rudemiller
"This is only the second year and it's kind of taken off as far as the talent standpoint," tournament director Morgan Wenger said. "You always want to think about good talent coming in and we have some good teams coming back."
Among the teams returning to the tournament will be the defending champions, the Canton Ballers. Reigning MVP Angelo Edwards, a Massillon graduate, will lead the four-man squad and will be joined by running mates Keithon Poole, Christian Morgan, and Preston Owens.
The Ballers will be competing for a $1,200 prize, which is the payout in the Top Dawg division. There are five other lower divisions ranging with players as young as first grade to as old as high school.
"I grew up as a basketball player and I like the opportunity it gives younger kids to get experience," Wenger said.
The younger divisions will use a pool play format, which will be held on Friday night and the Top Dawg division will have a triple elimination tournament on Saturday. On Sunday, the top four teams from each division will return to Village Green Park to determine the winners.
Headlining the last day will be the finals of the Top Dawg division, which will have a best-of-three format that will take center stage as the only contest at that time. Wenger sees it not only as a chance for older players to shine, but also as giving younger entrants something to strive for.
"When the final series takes place, that will be the only game going on," Wenger said. "Last year it was a good atmosphere, and it gives the younger kids a chance to watch the old guys and see some really talented players."
Regardless of what happens in the finals, Wenger believes his tournament will only get bigger in the years to come and hopes that the increase in talent and participants this year becomes a trend in the future.
"I envision it to be a lot bigger," Wenger said. "Last year to this year, we've doubled in size. There's a lot of room for growth and the facilities are top-notch."
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