OPI tournament brings people together

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BENNINGTON — Former Mount Anthony basketball player Hunter Stratton is in the business of putting together off-season basketball tournaments, getting the best and brightest stars in front of as many eyes as possible.

On Saturday, Stratton will host a 3-on-3 tournament at Mount Anthony Union High School in honor of his friend, Owen Iannotti, who died in a car crash in 2015. And while most tournaments Stratton hosts involve the cutthroat world of recruiting, this one is much more laid back, more of a party atmosphere.

"It's going to be a much better event this year, it's more than just a basketball tournament," Stratton said. "We're going to have cornhole and Kan-Jam tournaments too, so people can come and hang out."

There are two divisions — the platinum, or competitive, division and the intramural division. Boys and girls from grades 3 through 12 each have their own tournament, while men and women over 18 also each have a tournament. A fifth event is for men over 40.

Last year, the event was a 5-on-5 tournament at Southern Vermont College and numbers weren't that good. This year, the event is at Mount Anthony, where Hunter, Owen and all of their friends went to school, making it feel more like home.

"We had a lot of good memories at Mount Anthony," Stratton said. "To have it here has been huge, there's usually a lot of [renovations] going on during the summer, so it's hard to have events here, but we're getting a lot of good response."

The Iannotti family help to run the event, including hosting a cookout.

"They are great, last year was unbelievable," Stratton said. "I set it up and they ran everything. It's very important to them and they want to have a lot of people. It's good for them to be around us, I think because it makes them feel like Owen's still around, so they are very involved with everything."

Money raised from the event goes into a scholarship fund in Iannotti's name. Stratton said he hopes to raise more than $2,000 for the fund.

Registration remains open until today at 10 a.m., it costs $60 per team to participate in the 3-on-3 tournament and $20 to play in the cornhole tournament. There are plans to host a second cornhole tournament at night at either JC's Tavern or Ramunto's.


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