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Hooops returns next weekend

Sat., July 14, 2007

Hooops is back, and it’s bigger than ever.

The annual YMCA-sponsored three-on-three basketball tournament, Hooops (with an extra “O”), at the Spokane Valley Mall returns for its 17th year next Saturday and July 22

“This will be the biggest field we’ve ever had,” coordinator Robert Bravato said. “We have 215 teams entered this year – the most we’d had before this was 201. Last year our Men’s Open (6-foot and over) division had four teams. This year we have 14 teams entered.”

In all, there will be 26 teams in the two men’s open divisions, with a dozen entered in the 6-feet and under division.

“We’re even going to have a women’s rec division this year, which we didn’t have last year,” Bravato said. “Our coed divisions are growing, especially our adult coed division.”

The tournament always has drawn cyclical numbers, Bravato added. In most years one of the most popular divisions is for the tournament’s youngest teams, third-grade boys and girls. This year the tournament combined third- and fourth-grade boys and had no third-grade girls entered.

“It always seems to vary from year to year,” he said. “It will be different next year.”

The tournament, played in 24 brackets on 22 courts, will take to the west parking lot of the mall beginning at 8 a.m. next Saturday, with games running until about 5 p.m., with a similar schedule set for Sunday.

“On Saturday we’ll have a round-robin tournament, where every team plays every other team,” Bravato said. “Sunday we go into a single-elimination tournament.”

That schedule will mean the championship games in the various division will likely get underway early Sunday afternoon.

The tournament is expected to draw plenty of spectators once again.

“That’s the cool thing about playing this tournament at the mall,” Bravato said. “We always get a lot of people dropping by to watch. They may not stay for the whole tournament, but they do come out to watch a little of the tournament. Plus, since the mall is air conditioned, it makes a great place for the teams to duck into and cool off between games.”

Like its much-bigger brother tournament in downtown, Hooops could use a few more volunteers before tip-off.

“We can always use a few more volunteers,” Bravato said. “We tried to do the open division without referees last year, and that turned out to be a big mistake.”

Volunteers interested in helping out can call the Spokane Valley YMCA at 777-9622.


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