BENNINGTON >> The Battle of the Borders tournament is back for its fourth straight year.
An AAU basketball tournament, created by with the help of Bennington and Mount Anthony graduate Hunter Stratton will be held the weekend of July 9 and 10.
The weekend-long tournament will feature boys and girls teams from fourth grade all the way up to high school varsity basketball teams, as well as men's teams from ages 18 on up.
"I can't believe that it's now been four years that we have the tournament going on," Stratton said. "We decided to create this tournament to give guys that weren't playing organized basketball a way to keep playing the game they love in a competitive setting and it's grown from that to helping players at the youth, high school, college and even professional level to continue to improve their game as well."
Many teams playing in the tournament have local ties.
Students and alumni from Mount Anthony to Hoosick Falls and Cambridge will all be playing or coaching in the tournament.
Local college athletes will also be involved in the tournament as players from Southern Vermont College and MCLA will be competing in the event. Teams from all around the Northeast will be competing in the tournament too.
Every state in the New England region, to New York and New Jersey and even some teams from Canada have participated in the tournament in years past and are expected to do so again this year.
"It's great to see the local participation we have been having in the tournament," Stratton said. "I think that really shows the there are a lot of talented basketball players in the area and local folk that are passionate about the game of basketball. Having teams now from all over Northeast [as well] has been great in helping the tournament grow and getting more competition in the tournament."
Last year, 46 teams competed in the Battle of the Borders tournament.
This year, Stratton expects anywhere from 50 to 60 teams.
The fee to play in the tournament is $250 per men's team and $300 for girls and boys teams from fourth grade to 12th grade.
Stratton said the goal is for there to be around 200 teams in the near future, that will allow the event to become a live tournament, granting college coaches access to recruit high school age kids playing in the tournament.
With getting more teams participating in the tournament, Stratton believes it will help get more athletic facilities around the area to host the event. This year MCLA, Southern Vermont College and Hoosick Falls Central School will be venues for the tournament.
Stratton's goal is for places like Mount Anthony, Cambridge and Williams College to be other venues for the tournament in the future, which he believes will promote more business and attraction in the area.
"We want the tournament to grow more and more each year, so we can help our high school players in the tournament get more chances of getting notice by college scouts and help everybody playing in the tournament get better as players. Also if we can expand our tournament into more facilities around the area, it will help increase revenues for our local businesses. I think it can be a win-win for everyone."
Locals involved in the event include:
MAU Alumni: Kyle Callanan (MAUs All time leader in points and assists); AJ Mahar (2nd leading scorer All time at MAU); Jared Callanan (3rd leading scorer all time at MAU); Aary Bibens - Morehead State (D1)/LIU Post (D2); Chad Pulver; Travis Severs; Charles McVay; Clayton Palmer; Tanner Darwell; Sean Brundage.
Hoosick Falls Alumni: Alex Lilac, Kevin McMahon, Quinn Rasmus, Sean Dingman
SVC players: Deshawn Hamlet, Casey Hall, Will Bromirski, Dolapo Olugbile
Cambridge Alumni: Todd Hunt, Shea Bromirski