It isn’t easy to repeat as champions in Hoopfest.
It will be a lesson Welcome Home Spokane will have to learn next year, after winning its first men’s 6-foot-and-under elite title rather easily, 20-13 over Desert Horse.
It wasn’t easy this year for TBA, but the women’s team was able to pull off a second consecutive title, defeating Acme Concrete in the final for the second straight year, this time 20-17.
It wasn’t easy last year for Tonicx, but the men’s 6-foot-and-over team was able to get it done.
But on a comfortable Sunday evening before a packed-to-the-gills center court crowd, the two-time champs ran into a hurdle they couldn’t leap in this, the 22nd-version of Spokane’s 3-on-3 street basketball tournament. A bunch of Mommasboys from Tacoma.
“They outworked us and when you get outworked, you lose,” said Tonicx star David Pendergraft, the former Gonzaga player who is a Hoopfest fan favorite, after Mommasboys came away with a 20-13 win. “I definitely know that.”
The Mommasboys are all brothers, the Sheltons, and with the whole family in attendance, they won the top elite division in their third try.
Being that the four Sheltons range in size from 6-foot-8 to 6-2, it’s no wonder they won four consecutive titles in the family division starting in 2005.
So, tournament most valuable player Aubrey said Sunday, after the fourth year, they decided to try the elite ranks, to “see what we got. Can we hang with the elite? Are we good enough?”
The answer is yes.
Aubrey and his three siblings, Ben, Austin and Kaleb, all played at Tacoma’s Lincoln High and moved on to the University of Puget Sound. They powered through former Montana player Virgil Matthews, ex-USD star Corey Belser and AFCA 20-17 in the semifinals to set up the showdown with Tonicx, who rallied for a 20-17 win over the Wildcats in the other semi.
With the crowd cheering Pendergraft, former Ferris star Erik Benzel and Tonicx, Mommasboys jumped ahead 5-1.
Pendergraft, who finished with seven points, led a comeback, with his 21-foot 2-pointer putting Tonicx up 6-5. But then Aubrey took over.
He knows something about playing the spoiler role. As a senior in 2001, his Lincoln team defeated Ferris – and Benzel – in the state title contest in what was legendary Ferris coach Wayne Gilman’s final game.
“It was tough,” said Aubrey, who’s now Lincoln High’s head coach. “I hit one 3 that game, mid-fourth quarter, when they were making a run. It was the only one I shot, but it was a big shot.”
He hit four long-range shots in this one en route to nine points and the MVP award. He hit two consecutive 1s to stretch an 8-6 lead to 12-6, then another to make it 14-8. His final 22-footer was the dagger, making it 17-11 and Mommasboys finished it off at the free-throw line.
“I can’t believe we won the whole thing,” Aubrey said.
Early on TBA, made up of four players who all play professionally overseas, had trouble with Acme’s post, Hollie Tyler.
Though Brianne Watson, who played at UW and was the tournament MVP, tried to handle the former University of Montana star, Tyler worked inside for five early points.
Trailing 5-2, TBA subbed in Casey Bunn, the former Oregon State guard who led the Pac-10 in scoring in 2007. She would lead TBA in this one as well, scoring seven points and putting TBA up 9-8 with a short jumper.
Acme, made up four former Montana players, tied it at 11, but TBA turned up the defense, went on a 4-0 run and pulled away.
Though this was TBA’s second consecutive championship run, Bunn said this one was much tougher.
“It was better competition,” she said, “and it seemed like all the teams were more physical.”
But the outcome was the same. And the team will be back next year for a try at a three-peat, Bunn said, because, though they scatter around the world for their regular season, all four – including Lindsey Wilson and Amy Taylor – look forward to coming together the last weekend of June in Spokane.
6-foot and under
Inderbir Gill looks forward to Hoopfest all year, having played in each since 2002. But the former U-Hi guard has never had a tournament like this one.
His Welcome Home Spokane team, with Tony Davis, former North Central player Corey Allen and Craig Hanson, dominated Desert Horse from the start.
“We played hard, they played well and they hit shots,” said Desert Horse’s J.R. Camel, the former UM player and long-time Hoopfest participant.
Gill paced Welcome Home Spokane with 10 points.
“We’re team-first guys, all of us,” Gill said. “We like to share the ball, keep the (defense) moving at all times.”
Welcome Home Spokane, which defeated defending champion No Ceilings in a winner-to-the-final bracket clincher, pushed the dribble past Desert Horse defenders to “try to get 2-pointers,” Gill said.
And, despite Matt Luedtke’s 10 points for Desert Horse, it worked.