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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — It may be just for fun, but participants will be playing to win next week at a three-day basketball tournament in Stuttgart, Germany. Nine DODDS-Europe teams and three German clubs are slated to play, though none of the games will count toward the teams’ overall records.

Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe teams participating in the third annual Winter Boys Basketball Tournament include last year’s D-I champion Heidelberg and runner-up Ramstein, as well as the Stuttgart host Panthers, Lakenheath and Kaiserslautern. AFNORTH, Baumholder and Black Forest Academy, all Division II schools, and Rota, the reigning Division III champion, round out the DODDS entries.

Players to watch include Rota’s Tre’Von Owens, Stars and Stripes’ player of the year last season, who has committed to play at University of California-Riverside next year.

Patch coach Bill Lassetter said each school is guaranteed to play four games and some will play more, depending on the results. Twelve games are scheduled for the first day between the high school gym and the Patch fitness center facility. After that, teams will be put into brackets for the final two days of play, with the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The games, shortened to six-minute quarters, won’t count on the teams’ overall records, but that doesn’t mean that players won’t be trying to win.

“It’s a tournament atmosphere, but not all the teams are going to be at their best, because they won’t bring all their kids,” Lassetter said, adding that his team will be without two starters, who have left town for the holidays.

Nonetheless, Lassetter suspects that coaches from other schools might be among those attending the event to check out some of the competition. Basketball teams mostly play a regional schedule in DODDS-Europe, so it’ll be the only chance most Germany-based schools will get to see teams such as Lakenheath and Rota before the season-ending division tournaments Feb. 22-25 in Wiesbaden, Germany.

High school athletes used to compete in holiday wrestling and basketball tournaments in Europe, but in recent years, Stuttgart’s event has been the only one.

“I just wanted something for kids to do during the break,” Lassetter said of the idea behind the event. “It’s just good exercise for the kids and fun competition.”

Admission is free all three days, with games starting at 10 a.m.

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