63 teams to compete in basketball tourney


This weekend marks the start of the Manatee Storm Hardwood Classic.

The boys basketball tournament already has 63 teams committed to play, said Hershel Caywood Jr.

The various teams range in age from fifth-graders to 11th-graders.

And each squad will play at least three games, as pool play will decide where teams are scheduled for the single-elimination portion of the tournament, which starts Friday night, said Caywood.

Right now, Caywood said Palmetto High, Bayshore High, Lincoln Middle, Haile Middle and Harllee Middle will serve as venues for the tournament, while two additional sites are awaiting confirmation.

And Caywood said he estimates 12 players per team will generate about 2,000 people from outside the area to stimulate the local economy.

“They’ll eat at restaurants and shop at retailers here,” he said.

But the best part?

If you’re in high school or younger, admission is free for the three-day tournament.

It costs $8 per day for adults or $15 for a weekend pass.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Manatee County Boys & Girls Club, said Caywood.

Contact Caywood at 720-5008 for more information.

Club volleyball places high in tournament

The Manatee Area Volleyball club program sent several teams of various age ranges to the Big South qualifier national tournament in Atlanta in the beginning of April.

Saint Stephen’s volleyball coach Nancy Cothron, also a coach in the MAV club program, said the three teams that finished well, were the best finishes in 10 years for the program.

The 18-under team took 21st out of 100 teams led by Janna McKinnis, Jenna Duvall, Hailey Hall (Manatee High) and Maggie Holbert (Saint Stephen’s).

The 16-under squad finished 21st out of 142 teams led by Chynna Ratner (Bradenton Christian), Kayla Armer (Manatee) and Melissa Johnson (Saint Stephen’s).

Finally the 15-under team won silver, finishing 17th out of 142 teams led by Demi-Shay Watchorn, Allie Clements, Savannah Maloney (Palmetto High) and Ashley Hagood (an eighth-grader at Sugg Middle).

Cothron said the state of Florida was very well represented in Atlanta, and despite none of the teams advancing to the national tournament, the finishes do improve their state rankings.

Braden River Soccer Club gets new director

Braden River Soccer Club has a new director of coaching and soccer operations with Kai Haaskivi.

Club president Brendan Moriarity said it’s the first full-time director the club has had in its 11 years.

“We’re terribly excited to have him on board,” said Moriarity over the phone. “He can still play.”

Moriarity said there are 1,100 kids in Manatee County who are with the club, which features recreation (4-18 years old) and competitive (8-18 years old) divisions.

Haaskivi brings loads of experience from his playing days in the NASL in the 1980s and with the Finnish National team (1977-84).

He’s also coached at practically every level in the North America soccer pyramid, including a stint as the first director of the IMG Soccer Academy from 1995-2000, Haaskivi said.

“I get the most out of helping youth players,” Haaskivi, a former central midfielder in the outdoor game said over the phone.

Jason Dill, sports writer, can be reached at 745-7017.