Lightning bolts stopped the 15th annual “Valley Hooops” 3-on-3 basketball tournament in a flash Saturday about four hours earlier than organizers had planned.
But the action-packed morning and early afternoon allowed organizers to bracket the single-elimination playoffs for today, and attendees were treated with a special center-court show before the tournament was called off for the day.
“We only got to play one game,” said Charles McGee, 16, as the rain started to pour Saturday and players were sent home. His team lost their game by two points.
A love for the game seemed to be the driving force behind most participants’ desire to play in the 3-on-3 tournament, and the entrance fee goes to a good cause. The event generates $5,000 to $7,000 for the YMCA scholarship program to help low-income children play sports.
“It’s all about fun,” said Dan Irish, 23, of Spokane, whose team was named the Supermen.
Fun was also the philosophy Sarah Jones instilled in her group of 18 cheerleaders, who practiced for a week to perform during Valley Hooops.
Grace Hardesty, 5, practiced cheers with her dad before the 1 p.m. performance. She said she likes cheerleading because she gets to dance around. She’s been wiggling her body to music since she was 2 years old.
Shianne Soles, 5, said her favorite part of cheerleading is doing the cheers.
“We went camping, and by the end of the weekend everyone knew all the cheers,” said Shianne’s mom, Shawna.
The girls, ages 5 to 9, took center court and attracted passersby with their cuteness.
With each holding a white pompom in one hand and a blue one in the other, they cheered, “Dribble it, pass it, we want a basket.”
“Aren’t they adorable?” said Harry Beckous, tournament chairman, who had his camera ready to catch the girls’ performance. The girls did three cheers and a dance for the audience.
If attention wasn’t drawn to the events on center court, it was directed at the 170 teams playing on 21 makeshift courts with unusual uniforms and creative team names.
“If there was an award for most creative uniform,” McGee’s team would win, said YMCA youth sports director John Edwards.
McGee’s team wore referee uniforms. The 16-year-old said his three-person team was trying to come up with something creative to go with their name, Chocolate and Vanilla Boys. Referee uniforms are black and white, so it worked.
The uniforms definitely drew attention at the sports event. “People kept asking us if we were refs,” said Jeremy Davis, 14, another player on the team.
Jarid Fry, 16, joined Davis and McGee for the tournament. It was their first time playing together.
“We just wanted to play basketball,” McGee said.
While McGee’s team had clever uniforms, several players had fun with team names. Edwards’ favorite was Far From Dunkin’ for a third- and fourth-grade girls team. Other team names included D-Von Wonka and the Hoopa Loompas and Meet the Blockers, two men’s recreational teams, and Ballin’ Babies, another young girls team.
Beckous, who has been working with the tournament for 10 years, said he’s proud of how Valley Hooops has grown. It started 15 years ago with 65 teams at U-City Mall.
The 3-on-3 basketball tournaments are popular, and people like to support the YMCA because athletics are important for youth, Beckous said.
“If kids are involved in sports then they don’t have idle minds.”