Ridgewood will host the inaugural Anders Family Shootout on Saturday as a tribute to former boys basketball head coach Gary Anders and the contributions he and his family made to the Rams’ program.
The shootout, which current Ridgewood coach Mike Bua hopes will become an annual event, features six teams and three games. Pinellas Park will battle Anclote at 3:30 p.m., Bishop Verot and Wiregrass Ranch square off at 5:15 p.m. and East Lake takes on Ridgewood in the nightcap at 7 p.m. All three games will be played on Ridgewood’s Anders Court, named for the legendary coach after he picked up the 500th win of his prep career.
In total, Anders won 560 games in 31 seasons as a head coach, eclipsing the 20-win mark with 18 different teams. He guided the Rams to 13 conference titles and eight district championships.
Bua, who came up with the idea for the Anders Family Shootout, is quick to point out the event isn’t just a tribute to Gary. It also honors his wife Mary, a longtime Rams scorekeeper and cheerleading coach, sons Joe, Matthew, Michael and Mark, who all played under their father at Ridgewood, and daughter Beth, a former Rams cheerleader and scorekeeper.
“I’m very close to their whole family because I coached with Gary for six years and grew up with Joe and Beth,” Bua said. “Joe’s actually in my wedding party this summer. I just wanted to do something to honor their entire family, not just Coach Anders, who really doesn’t like a lot of attention.”
Three of the participating teams are coached by former Anders’ assistants – Jason Szymanski at Anclote, Jeremy Calzone at Wiregrass Ranch and Bua at Ridgewood. All three were on Anders’ staff from 2004-06.
Admission is $4 and includes entry to all three games. Bua said Gary and Joe, who played collegiately at the University of Tampa, will be in attendance.