Hoopla tourney this weekend

Mike Avery remains optimistic about what lies ahead at this weekend’s Pleasant Valley Hoopla basketball tournament.

The 23rd annual event will take place here today at the Mini Park.

Action begins at 9 a.m., with the championship game set for around 6 p.m.

“I think the numbers will be down this year as far as teams go,” said Avery, who is the commissioner and co-founder of the tournament. “Some of the guys have called me and are not comfortable playing after the recent incidents in the neighborhood. I understand it 110 percent.”

Among the entries in the field are teams from Des Moines and Chicago.

“I have about eight verbal commitments, but the responsible thing to do was give folks a refund if they decided not to play,” Avery said. “A few things are in limbo, but we’re still going to move forward. People don’t officially need to register until (this morning).”

Last year, five teams competed in the field. JDS, which stands for the initials of the late 2011 FDSH graduate Jonathon David Spencer, topped Elite Pickup Squad from Des Moines in the title contest. Players from Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Minneapolis were also in attendance.

“We want to make sure not to let the negative people scare us off,” said Avery. “Good people deserve the right to move freely without looking over their shoulder. We’ve had traditions in the past in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood that have faded away, but we want this to be one of the constants. It’s amazing that Hoopla has been going on so long without hiatus in between. Consistency trumps negativity.”