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May 11, 2009

East Shootout a success

Event brings in teams from far and wide

PLEASANT VALLEY — The East Fairmont Shootout started out as a fun idea, a new way to promote basketball and raise money for the Bees’ boys program.

Just three years since its humble beginnings, the event has become a hit with boys and girls from sixth grade to the high school ranks. East wrapped up another successful shootout weekend Sunday night at East Fairmont High School.

James Beckman ran a similar event while coaching the school’s seventh-and-eight-grade girls’ teams and and sought out to create a bigger — and better — event when he took over the Bees’ freshman boys’ team.

From having 14 teams in year No. 1, the turnout increased to 51 in 2008 to 60 this spring. And that’s not counting the 25 teams put on a waiting list for season’s event.

“You had teams dropping and joining at the last minute,” Beckman said. “This year, we were pretty much set a week and a half before the tournament started.”

According to Beckman and East varsity coach Ty Asterino, the event’s organized schedule and guarantee of games sets it apart.

“I think teams go back home and spread the world,” Beckman said. “They see the competition and everyone having fun. Plus, we’re giving them four games guaranteed with a possibility of seven or eight for $175. The kids get to play basketball here.”

And the kids come from all over the state, be it the eastern panhandle or down south. This year’s tournament also featured teams from suburban Pittsburgh, along with Ohio and Maryland.

“I had a team from North Carolina that expressed interest but the moms didn’t want to come Mother’s Day weekend,” Beckman said.

Though the many coaches — not to mention East’s parents and boosters — the event has paid huge dividends in helping fund the boys’ basketball program.

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