Peach Basket bounces down street

The scene changes dramatically as players warm up with the weather on Saturday.

The scene changes dramatically as players warm up with the weather on Saturday. Jeff Horner

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— The first day of the 19th annual YMCA Peach Basket Classic basketball tournament scored big with vendors and spectators, who found themselves on Main Street on Saturday with more space and more shade.

“Because of the sidewalks there is just more room. It just seems more open, which is because they don’t have all the sidewalk seating,” said Betze Counsell of Deeney’s Ice Cream, who was set up across the street from the Walla Walla Farmer’s Market on Main.

YMCA Tournament Director Scott Adams said moving the tournament west of Second Avenue — where only three businesses are normally open Saturday — put an end to merchant complaints and other issues like adhering to the city’s 100-foot vendor buffer zone, which requires a vendor’s food cart to be located at least 100 feet from an established food vendor.

“No issue,” Adams said.

For the first time in the event’s 19-year history, 33 half-courts were set up between Second and Fifth avenues to accommodate what are usually 1,200 participants who draw a crowd of approximately 3,000 players and spectators from 85 different communities.

YMCA officials said their numbers were slightly down this year, with just under 300 teams registered.

This year, participants were allowed to bring their own portable awnings for shade, items which had been limited in previous years.

But not everything west of Second was an improvement for the Peach Basket.

“The streets are a little worse. And, now that I think about it, the food is further away and that is a problem,” said Julio Almanzar of Kennewick.

Almanzar’s teammate, Kody Fuller, also questioned if the streets sloped a little more on the west side of Second.

“For the three-point court, you are actually shooting more like nine-and-a-half feet,” Fullerton estimated.

“Unfortunately the streets aren’t as good down here,” Adams conceded, noting that the LID that improved much of Main Street stopped at Second Avenue.

Weeks earlier, however, city crews did their part for the tournament by filling in cracks in the asphalt, Adams said.

The only other snafu the YMCA faced dealt with Valley Transit drivers.

With access to the bus depot closed from Main Street, drivers had to switch to smaller 11-person buses and access the loading kiosks on Fourth Avenue from the alley between Main and Rose streets.

The second and final day of the Peach Basket Classic takes place today from 9:30-3:30 p.m, with the women’s open at noon and the men’s open at 1:30 p.m.

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