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Photo gallery: Sneaks Summer Classic basketball tournament brings competition and community to La Jolla

For the fourth time, the Sneaks Summer Classic basketball tournament charged onto the courts at the La Jolla Recreation Center.

But it’s not just a basketball tournament, according to Tyson Youngs, who established the competition in 2018 with fellow La Jolla High School 2013 alumnus Sawsun Khodopanah. “It’s a community event,” Youngs said.

There was much hoopla at the La Jolla Recreation Center on July 17 as local basketball players gathered for the Sneaks Summer Classic annual tournament.

This year’s version July 16, which attracted several hundred people on and around the Rec Center’s blacktop, had 16 5-on-5 teams taking on one another in pool and elimination play.

Off the courts were several food, coffee and ice cream vendors, along with a DJ and merchandise booths.

Video creator Dre Lewis emceed the event. La Jollan Liv Johnson of event and stylist company Almost Nakey provided sideline reporting for Instagram.

“It’s beyond the basketball,” Khodopanah said. “It’s a summer event that’s becoming a tradition that people look forward to, [with] fun for people who don’t necessarily like basketball.”

“Every part of the Rec Center had something going on,” he said, with people setting up pop-up tents or watching from the playground.

La Jollan Stephanie Marquez’s son played in the tournament and she sponsored two teams through her salon and photography businesses.

The tournament was awesome, Marquez said. Being able to sponsor the teams made it “extra fun.”

The all-day event ended after the final game at 5 p.m. Tomey’s Apostles — a team of younger players affiliated with Francis Parker School in San Diego — won the trophy.

Khodopanah said the 2022 Sneaks was the best one yet. “Seeing it this year made the years past look like they weren’t even that cool, and I felt great about the years past,” he said. “I think it took it to another level.”

“It’s beyond the basketball. It’s a summer event that’s becoming a tradition that people look forward to.”

— Sawsun Khodopanah

In the past, Khodopanah and Youngs said they scrambled to fill team rosters, but this year, word spread and the tournament brackets were full weeks before the event.

“It’s nice to see that the few years of good products we put out seems to be starting to take on a little bit of a reputation that people are excited to play in it,” Khodopanah said.

“It’s an awesome environment to be in — at the beach in the summer,” Youngs said. “There’s really good basketball competition going on.”

Having the tournament at the Rec Center four times now is special, Youngs said, “because that’s where I learned to play basketball and ... learned to love playing basketball.”

“It means a lot to come back and create this event that everybody enjoys at a place that I love,” he said.

Khodopanah said he’s spent “more hours there than anywhere on Earth,” making lifelong connections with fellow players of all ages.

“Everything’s come through basketball … which all started at the Rec Center in La Jolla,” he said.

For more information, visit sneakssummerclassic.com.