Hundreds of people crowded into the regional high school gym Sunday afternoon, filling the bleachers and sidelines for the memorial scholarship basketball tournament in honor of Waylon Madison Sauer, who died in a car accident this fall.

Waylon was a member of the high school basketball team, so hosting a tournament felt like a fitting homage to Volkert Kleeman and Tayna Silva, two high school students responsible for organizing the event.

According to Tayna, over 50 businesses came on board as sponsors.

Competition was spirited. — Jonathan Fleischmann

“They really reached out in a heartbeat to come help...Over half of our sponsors reached out within two days of us putting out our Google form and putting out the need for sponsors.”

Over $20,000 has already been raised, she added. The majority of the money will go towards a college scholarship fund for Island students, with 25 per cent being put towards senior activities for the class of 2025, and to help plan for next year’s tournament.

The three on three games opened with the Black Brook Singers of Aquinnah performing a song honoring Waylon, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), and his family. The song filled the gymnasium, enveloping a community that continues to process its grief.

“Waylon was my little cousin and it’s important to be here,” said Michael Sellitti, Jr., a member of the Black Brook Singers. “It’s staying connected to Waylon’s spirit, being a part of something he loved.”

Black Brook Singers opened the event.

Sixteen teams then took the court, playing half court games for the first round. Each game lasted eight minutes, with spectators cheering from the sidelines, and children weaving through the crowd handing out WS stickers to attendees.

Whenever a ball rolled from one court into another, somebody was always there to kick or toss it out of the way before it could interrupt another game. Teams were made up of students, high school staff and other community members. Each team paid an entry fee as part of the fundraising.

Before the semi-final games, Tayna and Volkert took to the court to announce the winners of the Play for Way prize.

“This award goes to two players who displayed excellent sportsmanship, kindness and who stood out on the court,” Tayna explained, before passing the microphone to Volkert.

Organizers Tayna Silva and Volkert Kleeman hand out Play for Way prizes to Miles Hayes and Mya Houston.

“For this award, we picked one community member and one high school student who displayed attributes of Waylon on the court and off, how they played and the sportsmanship that they showed,” Volkert told the crowd.

The awards were given to Mya Houston and Miles Hayes.

In addition to being awarded the Play for Way award, Miles, a high school junior and member of the school basketball team, helped organize the event.

“Things have been solemn around Waylon,” he said. “We wanted to do something to lift everyone’s spirits. It’s been better than we could have imagined.”

Event has already raised over $20,000 for a college scholarships.

The semi-finals pitted team Mook against team Story, and team Past Our Prime against team YMCA.

Team Story and team YMCA were victorious in the semifinals (with team YMCA winning in overtime). Team YMCA won the final game in a hard fought, full-court contest that lasted 15 minutes.

Jeffery Durate, an educational support professional at the high school, cousin of Waylon’s and team YMCA member, recalled playing basketball in the backyard with Waylon.

“He’s probably still making fun of me for being old. But I’m not too old to hoop...It’s great to come together while we are still processing everything,” he said.

Tayna and Volkert thanked the volunteers and school staff for their support, reminding everyone that donations are still welcome.

“Every donation helps so much to make the scholarship as special as Waylon was in all of our lives,” he said.

To make donations, visit

More pictures.