Basketball tournament honoring Tre Cunningham’s memory continues to thrive in Jeannette

By:
Friday, June 10, 2022 | 10:29 PM


Steve and Tracy Bone Cunningham again were showered with warm memories of their son as the three-day Tre Cunningham Memorial Basketball Tournament reached its midpoint Friday night at Jeannette High School.

The second annual event honors the memory of Tre Cunningham, a three-sport star at Jeannette who was killed in a motorcycle accident in July 2020 at age 20.

“I remember him saying in an article one time, ‘I want them to remember how good I was,’ ” Steve Cunningham said. “This helps to show people that.”

Eight teams played into the second day of pool play before they are place in a bracket Saturday as a build-up to the championship game.

Competing high school boys teams include Jeannette, Greensburg Central Catholic, Penn-Trafford, Monessen, Yough, Geibel, Latrobe and Steel Valley.

The winning team will get the gold chain trophy, and the MVP will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Games are being played at Jeannette’s high school and middle school gyms. The championship will be 5 p.m. Saturday at the high school.

“We are so grateful,” Tracy Cunningham said. “There were so many people at the funeral who came up to us and told us how good of a kid Tre was, people we didn’t even know.”

While Cunningham’s parents, both Jeannette alums, carry immense pride with them, they are not in total agreement that the memories bring them peace.

“They do,” Steve said. “Tracy doesn’t feel the same way — she is still very angry — but I think he gave us so much in his 20 years. He was a great kid, respectful, he got good grades and he was a talented athlete.”

Said Tracy, “Nothing will ever give us peace. It’s still so hard.”

School board member Tim Carney, of the Jeannette Education Foundation, said the event was started last year to recognize a student-athlete who set himself apart.

“He refereed our knee-hi (basketball) games,” Carney said. “Any time I would see him, he was always as polite and courteous as possible. We wanted to remember such a gifted athlete, one of the best to play here. There is a good buzz, a good feel here.”

The event raised $5,000 last year, and organizers believe it will challenge that amount again.

“It’s $5 to get in, and we’ve had people give us $20,” Carney said. “People have been very charitable, and we appreciate that.”

Cunningham was attending La Roche and playing on the baseball team there.

La Roche has a bench monument to honor Cunningham at its field and also a large banner on the outfield fence with a picture of “Our brother; Our Friend; Our Teammate.”

“We were floored to see that,” Tracy Cunningham said.

Key donations were made by Seton Hill, Hoffman Wealth Management and AHN Hempfield Neighborhood Hospital.

“It’s amazing to see what people think of Tre and the impact he had on them,” Steve Cunningham said. “He had a tattoo that said, ‘Humble.’ That was him.

“When he was around 8, he was playing against a team, and he said, ‘Dad, they called me the infamous Tre Cunningham. What does that mean?’ I said, ‘It means you’re a problem for them.’ ”

Tre Cunningham stood out in baseball, football and basketball. In baseball, he was a talented pitcher with a smooth curve ball. Football saw him catch passes on offense and intercept them on defense and kick and punt (his dad called him “Super Toe”). And in basketball, the lanky but quick 6-foot-3 guard could shoot or drive and also defended well.

His line-drive 3-pointers from the corner were tough to defend.

He won WPIAL championships in baseball and football and a PIAA title in football.

Cunningham was the Tribune-Review Westmoreland’s baseball and basketball player of the year and the publication’s athlete of the year in 2018.

“His smile was so infectious,” Jeannette basketball coach and athletic director Adrian Batts said. “He got better every year he played.”

Jeannette superintendent Matt Jones said he was honored to have known Cunningham.

“Every school should be blessed to have student-athletes like him,” Jones said. “He is missed.”

A road marker, carved up by the Jeannette shop class, will serve as a permanent memorial and be placed at the scene of Cunningham’s accident. It was perched in the gym lobby Friday.

Last month, as a result of last year’s inaugural event, the Jeannette Educational Foundation presented the Tre Cunningham Memorial Basketball Tournament Scholarships to a pair of Jayhawks senior athletes, Tyler Horn and Sydney Shifko. Each received $1,500.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Tags:

More Basketball

Justin Walther brings competitive fire to Plum boys basketball program
Championship girls basketball coach Dori Oldaker steps down at Mt. Lebanon to take spot in South Fayette stands
Plum hires Justin Walther as boys basketball coach
Coach who built Deer Lakes boys basketball into perennial playoff team steps down
Westmoreland H.S. notebook: Penn-Trafford, Greensburg Salem among biggest moves in basketball realignment