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HOOPS FOR BREAST CANCER: Former Eastside basketball player hosts tourney to raise awareness
Paige Alexander
Former Eastside girls basketball player Paige Alexander stands with members of the winning team during her Hoops 4 Breast Cancer tournament that took place Saturday July 21. - photo by Anthony Banks

COVINGTON, Ga. — It didn’t take long for Paige Alexander to know that the best way to combat the intense pain that comes from the loss of a loved one to cancer was to give back to the cause of finding a cure. 

From this resolve, the Hoops 4 Breast Cancer (H4BC) basketball tournament was born. Alexander, a former Eastside High basketball player who graduated in 2011, hosted the event in its second year at Eastside’s gym last weekend, in hopes that she could play her part in raising awareness of the disease that took her godmother. 

“I lost my god mom back in 2016, and when it first happened I was grieving a lot,” Alexander said. “But then after a while, I thought that it was time to honor her. It’s a personal thing for myself to not only honor her fight, but also pay tribute to other cancer survivors and to extend care to those who’ve lost loved ones to breast cancer.” 

When Alexander kicked the event off not long after the passing of her godmother, she held it at her church in Stone Mountain. But because she still feels a close tie to the Eastside High community, she wanted to bring it back to a place she called home. 

“Eastside is my family,” she said. “Initially when I wanted to bring it here, I felt like it was in my best interest to reach out to Mr. (Jeff) Cher who was the athletic director when I was here. But then I found out he was the principal, and when I talked to him about it, he was more than happy to allow it to come here.” 

The registration fee for the tournament was $15 per person or $100 per team of no more than 10 players. Six teams competed for first place, and the winners get a medal. In addition to the actually games, there were raffles, a three-point competition, dunk contest and dance contest, and all proceeds from the event — including concessions — went to the Atlanta Cancer Care Foundation, Inc. 

Alexander, who went on to Fort Valley State University after graduating Eastside, was greeted and assisted at the tournament by many of her former high school and college teammates and classmates. Other athletes close to the Eastside community, like former Eastside and Iowa State standout Marquis Gilstrap attended and participated. 

Alexander said she wants to see the event continue to be an annual thing while continuing to grow in reach and popularity while opening up more ways for her to make a difference in the breast cancer community.

“Eventually I want it to continue to spread and become like a non-profit organization so that we could offer so many other services to people who battle with this disease,” she said. “I’d like it to be the next Susan G. Comen kind of movement.”