Hoopfest a win for security, organizers
The championship game was getting tense, and Mike Berry was not pleased with the officiating. One of his players had just been pulled down violently from behind while going up for a shot.
“That’s a flagrant!” yelled Berry, coach of Got Hops? The referee quietly explained the defender was going for the ball.
Shahid Quidwai, coach of the opposing Won’t Be Dunkin’ team, applauded the call.
“The refs are doing a good job,” he yelled back. “Let ’em play!”
With less than two minutes to go in a one-point game, Berry huddled his team close.
“Just fight for another couple minutes,” he told them. “You’re this close. Dig deep.”
In the end, Got Hops? sunk a clutch free throw and took home a 19-17 victory as the last game on Riverside Avenue ended shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday. It ended an exhausting day for the team – two of the three members were Hoopfest rookies – which had played six games that day with no substitutions, Berry said.
“I think they’ll be coming back” next year, he said.
The pain of coming up one game short – and the sting of perhaps a few blown calls – was likely the most significant conflict at the 25th Hoopfest, which filled the streets of downtown Spokane this past weekend.
Cool, dry weather and a ready, organized crew of Hoopfest volunteers contributed to a virtually incident-free tournament this year, police officials reported.
Hot temperatures can flare tempers, and wet pavement can mean more injuries from slips and falls.
Spokane police Sgt. J.D. Anderson, Special Events Unit supervisor for the basketball tournament, said only a few minor skirmishes occurred on the courts, and event staff had responded appropriately.
“By nipping it in the bud real quick, we’ve had a lot less problems,” Anderson said.
Each court featured a red-shirted court marshal, which could be backed up by a blue-shirted rapid responder in case of any conflict, he said.
At courts that organizers suspect could turn physical, yellow-vested police officers were called in to watch closely and deter tempers from turning into assaults, Anderson said.
Spokane police beefed up security patrols to about 100 officers downtown and were assisted by the Washington State Patrol, FBI, state Department of Corrections and a special gang crimes unit. Each Hoopfest zone had no fewer than 10 officers, Anderson said, and as many as 30 plainclothes officers also helped with street operations.
Staffing levels were normal throughout the rest of the city, police spokeswoman Monique Cotton said.
Medics reported a few minor injuries in game action but nothing significant.
Police made one assault arrest downtown Saturday night, unrelated to Hoopfest activities, while Cotton said a minor domestic violence incident occurred Saturday night.