By SETH STASKEY
For The Intelligencer
WHEELING - It's become a staple of the summer sports calendar.
The Wheeling Recreation Boys Basketball Shootout is set to take over courts all over the Friendly City this weekend.
This marks the 25th anniversary of the event, which was the brainchild of Tom Bechtel.
The tournament opens Saturday at 1 p.m. and runs throughout the day. Each team will play three games on the first day and two more games on Sunday with action beginning at 10 a.m. on the final day.
The teams that play in the 1 o'clock time frame will also play at 3 and 5 p.m., while those that begin the tournament at 2, will also play at 4 and 6 p.m.
The field is once again full with 32 teams taking part from all over the tri-state area.
Defending champion Zanesville is back in the mix. The Blue Devils finished the 2014 season 23-2, but were hit hard by graduation.
Two of the top Blue Devils to watch are Matt Weir and Austin Blatt.
North Allegheney - from the Pittsburgh area - finished as the tournament runnerup and went on to finish the season with a strong 22-5 record.
Another out of area team to watch is Akron Green. It finished 15-9 and is led by senior Austin Marciniak, who averaged 15 points a game. He was an all tournament team selection.
All told, seven of the top eight finishing teams from a season ago are back in the field, including Wheeling Park.
Coach Michael Jebbia's Patriots finished seventh a season ago and went on to post a 17-8 mark during the season. The Patriots are the only local team to win the tournament, doing so in 1994, 2010 and 2011.
They will be without all-state guard Ryan Reinbeau, who is out after undergoing surgery to repair a torn cartledge in his knee. The Patriots do return a solid nucleus, including Phil Bledsoe, who avergaed 11.6 points last season, Toddy Goodwin-Rowe and Trenton Smith.
Union Local is another area team that could make some noise. The Jets spent much of the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Ohio Division III state poll. They finished with a 22-2 record.
The Jets return four starters, including all-Ohioan Gavin Porter and Miami of Ohio football recruit Colton McKivitz.
Other area teams taking part in the event include: Linsly, Bellaire, St. Clairsville, John Marshall, Weir, Harrison Central, Wheeling Central, Bridgeport and Bishop Donahue.
Another team to watch is Bridgeport, W.Va. one of the state's top Class AA teams last season.