GLENDALE — No matter what part of Southern California the Glendale Panthers 13-and-under boys' basketball travel ball team has traveled to for a tournament, Coach Avedis Melkonyan sensed a genuine interest with those respective communities following the sport.
The Panthers have competed in numerous tournaments throughout the years from the San Fernando Valley to the Inland Empire to Orange County. With a high degree of appeal in those territories, Melkonyan figured hosting a similar tournament in Glendale would be ideal.
Melkonyan will see the notion come to fruition, as the inaugural Glendale Summer Classic will be held Saturday and Sunday at the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter facility. Twenty-four teams in five divisions from Glendale, La Crescenta, Burbank and the San Gabriel Valley will be on hand to compete with the main goal geared toward promoting sportsmanship and friendship.
Melkonyan wanted to spearhead a local tournament similar to ones in other towns that the Panthers have visited.
"I've taken my teams to places like Orange County in the past and I've always wanted to have a tournament like those in Glendale," said Melkonyan, who will coach a pair of Glendale Panthers 13-year-old squads. "It's just been hard to get a gym to hold a tournament like this one.
"I shot an idea out to Homenetmen and said let's host a travel tournament. It's going to be a competitive tournament. Our players are excited to be playing at our place. It's going to be good for them to see these other teams coming here. It's new to them."
Fifteen local teams will be on hand. They include the Glendale Panthers and Homenetmen in the 14-and-under division; the Glendale Panthers, Hye Boyz, Crescenta Valley Falcons and Ararat in the 13-and-under Gold Division; the Glendale Panthers, Hye Boyz and Homenetmen in the 13-and-under Silver Division; the Glendale Panthers and a pair of Ararat teams in the 11-and-under division and the Glendale Panthers and two Ararat squads in the 10-and-under division.
The tournament will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday with the Glendale Panthers battling the Ballers in a 14-and-under game.
"It's a beautiful city to play basketball in," Melkonyan said. "We are trying to make it known that there's youth basketball being played here and people can come watch it."
Mike Hailey, who coaches the Glendale Panthers 14-and-under squad, said the tournament will likely serve as a barometer in drumming up local interest.
"It's something that's fantastic to have," Hailey said. "A lot of our parents can't get away to some of our out-of-town tournaments and there are a lot of people who don't even know we have a travel-ball team.
"I think there's going to be a good mix of talent and I hope we have good-sized crowds. I would love to see it start to blossom and have it more often."
Armond Gorgorian, executive director for the Homenetmen Glendale Ararat Chapter, said the tournament will serve as an opportunity to put Glendale on the youth sports map.
"This will be something that will be good for the kids,' Gorgorian said. "Everything we do is geared for the kids.
"It's also an opportunity to introduce different cultures to each other and it's geared for them to have fun."
The 14-and-under division championship game will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, followed by the 13-and-under division title game at 2 p.m., the 11-and-under division championship game at 5 and the tournament wrapping up with the 11-and-under division title contest at 6.
The cost is $5 per person per day.