In the storied history of Cambridge Rindge & Latin basketball, there aren’t many players more accomplished than Medina Dixon.
The legend, who died last November from pancreatic cancer, blazed a trail of success for the next generation of girls’ basketball stars, and this weekend many will gather for the Battle New England All-Star Tournament.
Organized by Dixon’s cousin, Al McClain, a former star player at the University of New Hampshire, the eight-team field is from across the Northeast. The event begins at Cambridge’s War Memorial Gymnasium Friday evening before continuing Saturday and Sunday afternoon at KROC center in Roxbury.
Two teams of Massachusetts stars — the Medina Dixon Dream Team I and Dream Team II – will be coached by Mitch Hercule and Vinh Bui. Fenway girls’ basketball coach John Rice leads the Next Level All-Stars, which includes Kayana Armbrister, a former Fenway standout now at Dexter Southfield.
Shay Bollin (Bridgewater-Raynham), Yirsy Queliz (St. Mary’s), and Meg Olbrys (Norwood) are among the stars on Dream Team I, while Orlagh Gormley (North Quincy) and Christina Pham (Nobles) lead Dream Team II.
“Having this tournament in [Dixon’s] honor is such a special thing,” said Olbrys, a Villanova-bound senior who led Norwood to the Division 2 state final.
“It was such an eye-opening experience getting to know her and to see what a tough journey she went through to make it to that level. She’s an amazing role model and it’s great to get all these players together in her honor.”
Dixon captained Cambridge to a state title in 1981 and led Old Dominion to its only NCAA Tournament title in 1985. The 6-foot-3 forward from Mattapan played 10 years of professional basketball overseas and was the leading scorer on the 1992 Women’s Dream Team that won bronze at the Barcelona Summer Olympics.
She was elected into the Cambridge Hall of Fame in 1997, a long overdue achievement according to Basketball Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, who led Cambridge boys’ basketball to a third straight state title in 1981.
“[Dixon’s] talent spoke for itself,” said Ewing, who is the coach at his college alma mater, Georgetown.
“We called her ‘Icewoman’ and she was good enough to play with the boys. Medina helped shine a light on what women can do as athletes. She was a remarkable person, a great player, and the fact that everyone in Boston is supporting her with this tournament is great.”
Prior to the first games Friday, there will be a meet-and-greet for players from Maine, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. Artifacts will be on display denoting Dixon’s life and legacy, and Cambridge mayor Sumbul Siddiqui is expected to speak prior to a dance performance from the Origination Cultural Arts Center in between games at 7:30 p.m
The tournament championship is Sunday at 4:10 p.m. at KROC Center. McClain, who has been mentoring and coaching young athletes in Boston for 35 years, will speak about the mission of this first tournament before the championship.
In the following weeks, McClain plans to select 20 players to participate in the Battle New England-Medina Dixon vs New York challenge, which is scheduled for Aug. 5 at Dyckman Park in the Bronx. The exhibition tournament previously took place at Rucker Park in 2021 and 2019, pitting the best girls’ basketball players from Boston against the best from New York in a one-day event.
Last summer, Dixon traveled with the Boston teams to Rucker Park and was honored at halftime. With her name emblazoned on their jerseys, the team won the tournament in her honor.
Dixon’s teammate at Old Dominion, Adrienne Goodson, will attend the event. Goodson is coaching the “Goody All-Stars” at Battle New England, a team of top players from the New Jersey area.
“It was really important for [Dixon] to have basketball in Boston for young girls and have something like this tournament available on the regular,” said Goodson, who teaches and coaches in Newark.
“Of all the sadness that came from her leaving us too soon, this is what she wanted, and I hope there is a place she can watch it all from.”