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Tonight, it’s the Batavia Lions Club Boys Basketball Tournament at Genesee Community College. It’s the 29th year for Genesee County’s most time-honored tourney tradition.

We always hear about the teams playing, and who may win – but there’s a lot of history there, too. Peter Arras is the tournament chairperson, and has been for all 29 years. His favorite moment comes from the early days.

"I would have to go back to when Byron-Bergen was in (the tournament)," recalls Arras. "There were a couple of brothers that played for Byron-Bergen. And they were a top-notch team at the time.

"I can recall one of the brothers stepping to the line at the end of the game, with no time left. And his two free throws were going to decide the tournament. He made the two shots and Byron-Bergen won the tournament. For me, that was a real highlight."


Along with all the memories – a lot of work has gone into the Lions Club Tourney. Arras says the legwork begins in March, when he contacts GCC, and then finds two teams to face off against perennial contenders Batavia and Batavia Notre Dame.
But Arras says it was easier in the past to get two more teams, when there weren't so many Christmas basketball tournaments around. And with teams in New York State limited to just eighteen regular season games, it's getting harder to convince programs to spend a pair of non-league games in Batavia.

"Teams tend to get locked into one tournament and stay there," says Arras.
"We were happy to get the two teams that we've got this year (Dansville and C.G. Finney). They'll be two new schools to take a look at."

But this year is just the second time that Arras won’t actually get to see the games.

"I hope to be listening to the beginning of the games tonight from Rushton, which is in the United Kingdom. And they'll be going on-the-air here at 11:30pm," chuckles Arras. "So I'll get to listen to the beginning at WBTAi.com. But I'm not guaranteeing I'm going to stay up for both games."

Tournament action tips-off at 6:30pm tonight at Genesee Community College, as Batavia takes on Dansville. The next game follows directly after with Batavia Notre Dame meeting C.G. Finney of Rochester. Both games will be aired live on AM-1490, or you can listen live worldwide by clicking HERE.

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