CLINTONVILLE - Some of the area's best high schoolteams will play across conferences next weekend and support some very meaningful charities in the process.
The fourth annual Hoops for Hope Tournament will take place Dec. 18 and 19 at AuSable Valley Central School with teams competing from both the CVAC and MVAC, as well as from Vermont.
All proceeds from the tournament are split between two special charities. Half is donated to Hospice of the North Country, while the other half is given to the ALS Association, which funds research and treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called Lou Gehrigs disease.
According to AuSable Valley boys basketball coach Jamie Douglass, the tournament started as "Hoops for Hospice," a fundraiser in honor of his late grandmother, E. Lucille Coolidge, who received services from Hospice of the North Country.
However, after former Au Sable Valley three-sport standout Johnny Nixon passed away in December 2007 following a battle with ALS, the event took on a second cause.
Nixon, who graduated from AVCS in 1996, eventually returned to help coach the basketball team for a short time.
"The kids really looked up to Johnny," said Douglass. "We just want to try to give something back."
The charities also hold special meaning for some of the players. T.J. Burl is Nixon's nephew, and two other Patriots, Mike Hart and Brody Douglass, are both great-grandchildren of Coolidge.
Last year the event raised $965 for each of the two charities, nearly doubling its proceeds from the year before. This year, Douglass hopes they can draw enough of a crowd to raise at least that much.
American Legion Post #504, Graymont, Finney's Sports, and Loreman's all act as sponsors for the event, and parents volunteer to run the scorer's table and concession stand.
As usual, Au Sable Valley will host the tournament, which will count as non-league games for each of the teams involved. Both the JV and varsity squads will compete in both days of the tournament.
The host Patriots enter the tournament with an already great start to their season. They will face off against Willsboro, one of the stronger teams in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference so far this year, and a regular participant in the tournament.
Also returning this year is Harwood Union, a Vermont school that won the tournament the past two years, and Westport, last year's MVAC and Section VII Class D champions.
"The level of competition should be extremely strong," said Douglass. "All [the teams] are stronger this year than they were last year."
Third Annual Hoops for Hope Boys Varsity Tournament Schedule
Friday Jan. 3, 2009
4:30 p.m. - Au Sable Valley JV vs. Willsboro JV
5:45 p.m. - Westport JV vs. Harwood JV
7 p.m. - Westport Varsity vs. Harwood Varsity
8:15 p.m. - Au Sable Valley Varsity vs. Willsboro Varsity
Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009
1:30 p.m. - JV Consolation game
3 p.m. - JV Championship game
4 p.m. - Varsity Consolation game
6 p.m. - Varsity Championship game