If you didn’t know any better, Shannon Mathews comment to Rae Jewell before their final Hoopfest game of the weekend might have seemed unsportsmanlike.
“Traitor,” Mathews said, pointing to Jewell.
But it was that kind of exchange, which drew a laugh from both former Gonzaga University and Hoopfest teammates, which made it fun for Jewell, Mathews and the rest of the familiar faces on the court during the Elite women’s championship game Sunday afternoon on Nike Center Court in Riverfront Park.
Jewell, alongside former WNBA veteran Stacy Clinesmith, Lindsay Herbert and another former Zag, Ashley Anderson, defeated the BBallerz (Mathews, Ashley Burke and Crystal McCutcheon) 20-17 to take home the title – something familiar to three of four Tomato Street team members.
Counting this year’s title, Clinesmith has been a part of three straight championship teams.
“Each time is different,” said the 29-year-old Clinesmith, a Mead High graduate. “There are so many challenges every year, and this one is just as special because it’s three in a row. I don’t want to ruin the streak.”
Clinesmith said she could also feel the effects of age.
“There is a little tendinitis here and a little tendinitis there,” she said laughing. “But I’m still feeling pretty good – I just don’t waste extra energy anymore if I don’t have to.”
Herbert, who was a standout at Lake City High before a prolific four-year career at Utah, has been a part of three of the last four women’s championship teams, including last year with Clinesmith of Team Idaho.
Jewell and Mathews, who had a player-high 10 points in the championship game, were teammates in 2005 when the GU Ballas won, a team Clinesmith was a part of.
“It’s fun because we’re all competitive players,” Jewell said. “But it really is still just for fun. We knew looking at the bracket that we’d all probably meet in this game and it just made it even more fun for all of us.”
With Tomato Street ahead 8-1, Mathews – who was guarded by Jewell – nailed three straight two-pointers and hit a short jumper to tie the game at 8-8.
Tomato Street went ahead with a two-pointer from Clinesmith and held onto the lead until a two from McCutcheon tied things back up at 16-16. Anderson, who was named MVP, scored two of her six points and Clinesmith secured the win with a two-pointer.
Mathews, who was teammates with Jewell, Anderson and Burke at Gonzaga, was in good spirits after the game.
“That was really fun,” she said. “We’re so competitive with each other and it just makes it better, we joke around a lot and talk a little trash – just giving each other a hard time – but it actually makes it easier to lose to friends, then you don’t feel so bad.”
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