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Bennetts display court vision

The Bennett women have been playing basketball together so long that the no-look pass Allison made to her younger sister and fellow University at Buffalo graduate, Stephanie, was a surprise only to the fans who didn't know them, and to the unsuspecting Wetodditt players who thought they had Allison trapped in no-woman's land.

Allison's seemingly blind pass over the defense from near the sideline to a streaking Stephanie in the lane for a layup served as the unofficial exclamation point on UB Retired's return to the championship throne in the top women's division at the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament of Buffalo. Stephanie Bennett's basket made the score 12-5 as UB Retired ended Wetodditt's title reign, 15-10, on Sunday.

"That was sister to sister. That was really cool," said Stephanie.

The Bennett sisters and cousin Rachel combined for 13 points in the win. Kourtney Brown, UB's all-time leading scorer, had the other points.

This was the Bennett sisters' third Macker top women's title, while Brown and Rachel Bennett each won their first.

"It's just playing a team game," said Brown of the secret of the team's triumph. "It was really exciting to see us win."

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Ericka Browning knows what it's like to win a Macker title. Browning has participated in Mackers in Buffalo, Hornell and Jamestown and has been a part of a dozen title teams in the top women's division.

She helped Wetodditt win last year.

So one can easily understand just how painful it was for her to be a spectator this year instead of playing.

Browning ruptured her Achilles tendon in the title triumph last year -- an injury she's still trying to recover from. She and another member of that team missed this year's Buffalo Macker due to injuries.

The injury forced Browning into the role of volunteer after serving as a player in the first 20 Mackers in Buffalo. She supervised all the scorekeepers on the 59 courts during the event.

"It's kind of weird walking around [and not playing]," said the 39-year-old Browning, a member of the Lafayette High School Athletic Hall of Fame and former Buffalo State player.

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Apparently there are some people in Western New York who don't know (or forgot) what Jason Rowe is capable of on a basketball court.

How else can one explain the "oh, my God" reactions from the fans when the 5-foot-10 guard rose above the giants to throw down an alley-oop. Just to prove it wasn't a fluke, he did it again moments later, both feeds from Ka'Ron Barnes, during Darling Paint's semifinal win over an HSDC crew that featured players 6-5 and taller.

"He's been dunking since he was 12 years old when he was 5-foot-nothing," said Barnes of Rowe, who plays professionally overseas. "I just put [the passes] up there and watched him go get them. I love to do it because he's a short guy and all these trees down low just look up at him. How ironic."

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Mr. Gus Macker, er, event founder Scott McNeal on returning to Buffalo:

"You see a lot of people who have either played in the event, helped or have their kids playing in it. You see these old Gus Macker shirts, that's fun to me, just seeing a lot of good people," McNeal said.

According to Susan M. Gonzalez, the executive director of the Buffalo PAL, the event raised more than $25,000 for the programs within the organization. Fromunda Crew, captained by St. Bonaventure athletic director Steve Watson finished fourth in the top men's division, losing to runner-up Buckeye Chicken and champion Darling Paint. Former hoops star and Bona Hall of Famer Mark Jones served as an official during the tourney.

e-mail: mrodriguez@buffnews.com