Marion basketball league grows into second summer season
MARION — The sounds of sliding sneakers and cheering crowds filled Tabor Academy’s varsity gym on Saturday, Aug. 13. But even though school is out, one group of friends made sure that the basketball court was still alive with activity.
The Embargo League, which is now in its second year, gives college students who are home for the summer, a place to play competitive basketball.
Players from Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester and even Fairhaven signed up for the tournament.
“After high school there isn’t a league for us,” said league organizer Dylan Cantara, who is a junior at UMass Dartmouth studying finance. “We wanted to create a league where everyone is competitive but everyone’s still friends.”
Last year, the league had over 60 players and followed official rules that elevated tournaments beyond standard summertime pick-up games.
But now, according to Cantara, and fellow organizers Andrew Bellemare and Michael Pardo, the league has gotten bigger and more professional, with eight teams, dedicated stat-tracking, videography, and a players association to help manage the league.
In fact, Pardo said, the Embargo League grew so much that it even had to turn away some players. “Next year we’re going to have to expand and have more teams,” he said.
One of the biggest changes this year is the addition of sponsors to the league, said Pardo. Businesses like Kool Kone, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, and Nick’s Pizza picked up the tab and covered the costs of renting courts, paying for jerseys, and even insurance required by the Town of Marion.
“With more teams we wanted to play more games,” said Cantara. “We didn’t want to charge each team — a bunch of college kids — so we needed help to pay for the league.”
Saturday’s championship game saw team Tropical Smoothie face off against team Kool Kone. Both teams were decked out in custom jerseys, repping their respective sponsors.
Team Tropical Smoothie won with a score of 101-66.
With the season over, the organizers are taking things year-by-year. “We haven’t thought too far ahead,” said Pardo. The group plans on organizing the league again next summer, but has no concrete plans for the future.
Regardless of if it continues to grow, the Embargo League has already made a huge impact on its players and community.
“I like this league, I think many other kids should be looking to join,” said Tajuan Estrella, 20, who started playing with the Embargo League this year. “It gets you to get close with new people. Before I was here, I knew people but I’m now closer to some people who I had no connection to.”
Jeffery Cantara, Dylan Cantara’s father, has been watching many of the Embargo League’s players since they were in highschool.
“I’m proud of all the boys,” said Cantara. “I’m there almost every weekend so to see these guys grow playing ball has been nice.”