“We gotta win,” said Deviian Williams, coming off the ball court. “I always look at the scoreboard and if we’re losing, I know I have to keep pushing.”
Bad luck — his team, Midview of Elyria, didn’t walk away with the 35th Annual Outdoor Basketball Festival title this past week in its first time competing.
Of the 16 teams, only one was named champions. Lakeside Inc. felt the thrill of victory while all other comers were hit with the agony of defeat.
All got to enjoy the two-day festival at Park Street Park, where smoke from a food truck serving chicken and ribs floated over to the basketball courts, enticing players with a sweet smell.
Chris Tevis, a Lakeside player, said the barbecue was the least of his distractions as he kept his eyes on the grand prize.
His strategy was to drown everything out — the hip-hop music blaring from a snow cone truck, the whoops and hollers from friends and family, and the drool-worthy smells.
His Oberlin team’s razor-sharp focus paid off in the form of a golden trophy. Lakeside Inc.’s players reigned supreme over Paper Chase with a final score of 53-71 on Sunday, topping the ladder of the twelve-on-twelve, double elimination tournament.
The Most Valuable Player Award was given to Amin Stevens, who was unanimously chosen after scoring 23 points for Lakeside in the championship game.
While this year was only Tevis’ second time on a team, he is no stranger at the basketball festival. His love for the sport started as a kid and he has been attending ever since.
The tournament followed on the heels of the Rodney “HotRod” Cannon Memorial Legends Game, held Friday at Oberlin High School.
The game’s namesake died of cancer at age 45. A graduate of Oberlin High School, he played on the championship team in 1986.
Oberlin recreation superintendent Ian Yarber said Cannon was a teammate of his. He played in the festival for many years until he began selling fish dinners at the event.
The legends game is for men 40 and older who want to show they still have skill on the court and enjoy the comradery, but don’t want to play outside in the sizzling July heat.
But this year, without furnace-like heat blasting down from overhead or storms to wash the players out, the weather was perfect for the games, said Yarber.
Every year, he is surprised by how many people come to the festival. While basketball is the main draw, family and class reunions make the event a safe and exciting environment.
“It brings people to Oberlin that don’t have any other reason to come,” Yarber said. “But once they are here, they see the charm of the community and want to come back.”
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.