It's been called the Gold Medal Tournament of middle school basketball.
Junior high teams traveled from around Southeast Alaska to compete in the 16th annual Hooptime-Rebounders-Fastbreak Tournament in Juneau which begins today and runs through Saturday evening.
Teams from Angoon, Haines, Kake, Schoenbar and Sitka will join host schools Floyd Dryden Middle School and Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School as the 20-team tournament tips off this morning.
Dave Ringle, a teacher and former coach at DHMS, said 16 years ago the interest in holding a tournament in Juneau grew rapidly, especially given the relative ease of coordinating travel to the capital city from the surrounding area.
"It grew pretty quickly because it's the right time of the year," Ringle said. "It's been a big deal for the villages in the B Division and for the bigger schools in the A Division.
"Occasionally you get a really good team (from the villages)," he continued. "Angoon has played in the A Division twice and won it one year."
The tournament, which is paid for by the Hooptime, Rebounders and Fastbreak basketball clubs in Juneau, is separated into four divisions: an A and B Division for both girls' and boys' teams. Squads from DHMS, FDMS, Sitka and Schoenbar make up the boys' and girls' A divisions, while Haines, Kake and Angoon will join B teams from DHMS, FDMS and Schoenbar to make up the girls' and boys' B divisions.
Play begins today at 10 a.m. at FDMS with Division A games, and Division B play gets started at 11 a.m. at DHMS. Friday's games at FDMS and DHMS will begin at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively..
The championship round begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at DHMS and will be followed by an awards ceremony. Admission is free at each location.