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Downtown to serve as backdrop for 'Sunnyside Summer Jam'

Nearly 85 teams are expected to pack Sunnyside's downtown corridor next weekend, July 23-24, for the third annual Sunnyside Summer Jam three-on-three basketball tournament.

Tournament organizers are going to close the section of Sixth Street between Franklin and Decatur avenues for two days to give teams a shady place to play ball.

Lino Gutierrez, who is helping organize the event, said this is the first year the tournament is going to be played in the downtown area.

Gutierrez said last year teams that took part in the event asked him why the tournament, which was being held in the parking lot of the Mid-Valley Mall, wasn't being held downtown. Gutierrez pointed out that other Washington communities hold basketball tournaments on the streets, including Spokane and Walla Walla.

"We're trying to cater to their needs," Gutierrez said of moving the tournament to the downtown corridor.

Jose Lopez with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce is hoping that moving the tournament will bring more people to the downtown area. He added that it will also give those playing in the tournament a bit of shade, something that was lacking before.

"We're trying to make it more of a community event," Lopez said. "We want people to come out of their homes and see some games. It's more of a family atmosphere."

He added that in addition to basketball action, spectators will also have a chance to see some entertainment at the gazebo in Centennial Square and look through the wares brought in by craft and food vendors.

Those who want to take part in the tournament still have a chance to register. Gutierrez said there will be no penalty for late registration, adding that people can sign up to take part in the event through Friday, July 22.

The tournament is open to youth ages 13-17, and adults 18 and older. Gutierrez said in the adult category there are several divisions people can play in, including a six-foot and under men's division, a women's division, an open division, and a corporate division.

Gutierrez said every team that participates in the three-on-three tournament is guaranteed to play in at least three games. He said Saturday's action will begin with a round robin-type of tournament, where each of the teams in a specified division will play each other. Then Sunday, the pressure will increase as teams try to play for a spot in the championship round.

Gutierrez said Sunday's action will be single elimination up until the championship game, which will take place in the street in front of the gazebo at Centennial Square. An awards presentation at the gazebo will follow the final game, which Gutierrez estimates will end around 2 p.m.

Lopez said basketball action is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on both days of the tournament.

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