The parking lot at Main and Browne on Sunday morning was the place to rekindle high school basketball dreams.
Teams of athletic 20-somethings, many of them former prep players, were fighting through the Hoopfest loser’s bracket, fighting for rebounds, fighting for survival.
But in the cluster, one team was battling for a greater cause: revenge of the Turkeys.
The Dirt Turkeys, from Stevens County, got their start when Rob Porter was irked after a friend didn’t make the team at Colville High School. One dream led to another, and he put together a team that’s been getting its revenge ever since.
“It was a vendetta, to beat these other teams,” said his younger brother Nicholas, 22. “I grew up watching them, and at 16, I finally got a chance to play.”
And win. Going into this year’s tournament, the Dirt Turkeys had won four straight tournaments and 20 straight games. Who needs a lettermen’s jacket when you can have four Hoopfest championship T-shirts?
“It’s kind of progressed to something we’ve looked forward to all year,” said Rob Porter, whose team also includes Justin Urhausen and Jeremy Day.
“And we took it from there. But people know we’ve won, and we’re getting everybody’s best game.”
On Saturday, they got just that from getfitneverquit.com, who “hit their shots and we didn’t,” lamented Nick on Sunday morning. “That was a reality check. Now we have to work harder.”
And they did, coming from behind to evict Occupy Wall Street 20-16 on a layin by Urhausen to earn a rematch with getfitneverquit.com.
They took that one too to reach the finals, but lost to Tenacity. Still, 26-2 isn’t bad.
It’s all in the family
In the same parking lot, players from half a dozen Native American families were celebrating a victory by Old Hogs Young Hogs, who stayed alive Sunday morning after a 20-18 win punctuated by a two-pointer from Thomas Lozeau.
“We’ve got the whole family here,” said Lozeau, whose teammates include Scott Sleeping Bear, Michael Ellenwood and Levi Ellenwood, who played varsity for three years at North Central High School.
They’ve been playing together since second grade, and Levi has played in six Hoopfest title games, winning once with older relatives who’ve since moved on to older age brackets.
“It would sure be nice to win another one,” Ellenwood said. Alas, the team was eliminated in the next game and finished fourth.
Catching dance fever
At the other extreme is Like a Rash, a spandex-clad group of misfits who definitely got under the skin of a few opponents while scoring – and wearing – as little as possible.
Teammates Josh and Nick Beveridge and Josh and Jeremy Kitchen, all in their mid-20s, “have been playing for years, even since we were kids,” said Nick. They had just been eliminated, and their scoring was as skimpy as their Speedos.
“It was a great game, 19-1,” deadpanned Nick. “It should have been 19-3, but we traveled.”
The nonconformity extends to their game, which on Saturday included leapfrogging and 2-pointers from their seats. “People do get quite angry, but we just know how to have fun,” Nick said.
They even danced their way through one defeat, burning a timeout “when a guy came out of nowhere and started dancing on the court,” Nick said. “Pretty soon, kids were coming on to the court and everybody was dancing.”
… And what of Four Play, the team featured in The Spokesman-Review Hoopfest special section? Playing as Centurylinkone, the team of Jeff Higgins, Rick Russell, Eric Koch and Rick White swept through their division to win their ninth title, outlasting Larmark Scotts 20-17 in the final.
And the pile of T-shirts just keeps getting higher.