Hoopfest teams stocked with ex-Gonzaga stars rarely experience the loser’s bracket.
But a team with some of the country’s top 16-and 17-year-old girls downed The Globe Thotters on Saturday, an alumni squad comprised of Jazmine Redmon, Elle Tinkle, Shaniqua Nilles and former Stanford and WNBA forward Joslyn Tinkle on Saturday.
Stars and Stripes, which features Notre Dame commit Samantha Brunelle, the top-ranked recruit in 2019 recruiting class, won both of its games Saturday, three months after winning a USA Basketball U18 3-on-3 national title.
Rarely, if ever, has a team of high schoolers played in the adult elite division at Hoopfest, but the young squad, which has one local in Cashmere, Washington wunderkind Hailey Van Lith, proved it belonged with the tournament’s best.
“We didn’t know we were going to be in the elite division until this week,” said Van Lith. “We thought it was going to the good high school division, so we really had to step our games against these amazing players.”
Van Lith said it was only a few years ago when she was at Gonzaga’s basketball camp, gaining instruction from some of the players she defeated Saturday.
“You definitely learn to play smarter when going up against these (ex-college) teams,” Van Lith said. “They’re more experienced, and we learn from them. But I thought our team just had more energy.”
Defending elite women’s champion YYC Canada, which boasts former Gonzaga great Janelle Bekkering, also lost Saturday. YYC Canada and The Globe Thotters, two teams favored to win the tournament, play each other Sunday in a 8:30 a.m. loser-out game.
TACC Squad, a team of Tayler Flemming (Whitworth), Chene Cooper (EWU), Aubrey Ashenfelter (EWU), and Carrie Ojeda (EWU), also 2-0 in the women’s elite.
In the 6-foot-and-over elite men’s division, former EWU star Marc Axton’s Lee & Hayes squad is on the road to a title repeat, going 2-0 on Saturday. Loaded, Bobby and the Boys and Wax Guardian for Life also went undefeated
In the 6-foot-and-under elite men’s divison, defending champ Charlie’s Gold, led by former Central Valley guard Justin Bright, also went 2-0. Parking Lot Pimpin, Squad and Run N Gun Blackfeet also went undefeated.