Amid the usual crowded lineup of lacrosse tournaments that dot the summer landscape, there’s West Genesee’s annual two-day festival that honors the game and its spirit.
The 13th annual John Pepper Lacrosse Tournament takes place this weekend at West Genesee High School. Named in honor of former West Genesee lacrosse player John Pepper (who passed away in 2001), the event draws hundreds of players to Camillus.
It starts on Saturday with the John Pepper Wildcat Invitational, where 16 high school teams play four full-field games (40 minutes in duration) in front of crowds that include parents and friends, but also plenty of college coaches on the lookout for new talent.
West Genesee traditionally has two teams in the field – one older, one younger. They are joined by local powers Fayetteville-Manlius, Jamesville-DeWitt, Liverpool, Baldwinsville, Carthage, LaFayette and Watertown IHC, which makes up more than half the field.
Four teams from Section V (Rochester area) – Penfield, Canandaigua, Penn Yan and Webster Thomas – are in the tournament, as is Timon/St. Jude from Buffalo. To round it out, Atlanta Elite, from Georgia, and Top Tier, from North Carolina, visit from the South.
Then, on Sunday, the John Pepper Tournament takes place. In all, 20 teams, split into three groups (Grades 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10), are featured, with all of the players age 15 or younger. And each team plays at least three 40-minute games, with younger players following modified rules and the 9-10 teams following varsity rules.
And all of this follows what took place last weekend in Camillus – namely, the girls Wildcat-Pepper Invitational Tournament.
Varsity girls teams played on Saturday in a 12-on-12 format, with state champions from West Genesee and Skaneateles joined by Cicero-North Syracuse, Liverpool, Marcellus, Syracuse, Westhill, Auburn, CBA and Cazenovia, plus the Lady Flamingoes and the Road Patriots.
And just like the boys tournament, the second day belonged to younger teams, from 10-on-10 junior varsity games with 12 teams and eight-on-eight modified games, featuring eight teams. Four other teams with girls in grades five and six played, too.