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Wednesday, July 15, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: The weekend is here. Make that, the best weekend is here

Reece Van Lierop shoots the ball during Hoopfest 2014 on Saturday, June 28, 2014 in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Reece Van Lierop shoots the ball during Hoopfest 2014 on Saturday, June 28, 2014 in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The best weekend of the year begins now. Well, at 8 a.m., which might have been then to those of you reading this. Whatever, it is Hoopfest weekend and we’re ready. Read on.

••••••••••

• Sunscreen? Check. Good shoes? Yes sir. Big hat? Got it. Hoopfest app? On the phone. Parking space scoped out? Yep. Pedometer? Always.

So we’re ready to head downtown for a few hours of Hoopfest.

There are other things to take sure, but don’t pack too much. Downtown is as crowded as it ever gets today as thousands of people try to get around from court to court.

And by people, I really mean people. All types. If there is a more inclusive Spokane event than Hoopfest, I haven’t seen it.

Tall, short. Young, old. Fit, me-like. Everyone is welcome, either to play or to watch. Spokane vibrates this weekend with every race and ethnic group, from those who favor the 3-point shot to those who prefer dunking, from the defenders to the let-it-fly guys.

It’s a cornucopia of basketball.

And its Spokane’s. From its location – the heart of the city – to the number of teams – more than anyone else – to its tradition – a fixture since 1990 – Hoopfest has been Spokane signature event.

And its best weekend.

• Six consecutive wins. That’s something, right? Yes it is. The Mariners are starting to play baseball the way they’ve wanted to play all season.

The problem is it is the middle to the end of June. The Astros, despite Seattle’s 13-3 win last night, still have a double-digit lead on the M’s and everyone else in the American League West.

It just might be too late. The Mariners are not catching Houston unless a miracle happens. Of course there is the other path to the postseason, the wildcard route. That’s still in play.

Thanks to April, May and the first part of June, that seems to be Seattle’s goal.

We see it differently Aim for the wild card, sure, but if Houston collapses, be in position to buzzard the West title.

•••

WSU: It was sad to see this news on Twitter yesterday. Riley Sorenson’s testicular cancer had returned. He’s already getting prepped for chemo. … The Cougars picked up a commitment from a Texas safety yesterday. … A former WSU running back is motivated to have a great season for BYU. … Around the Pac-12, Oregon State’s 23-game winning streak is over courtesy of a huge blown call by the World Series umpires and LSU. Now the Beavers will turn to Mt. Spokane’s Drew Rasmussen to save their historic season. … Stanford has one of its quarterbacks out sharing his knowledge. … The conference had winners and losers in the NBA draft. One big winner was Washington, who is the first school to have the top NBA and WNBA draft picks in the same year. … California has a law that prohibits state-funded travel on the attorney general’s blacklist. As the list grows, it has a chance to affect college athletics.

Gonzaga: We were torn. Put Jim Meehan’s story on the Gonzaga vs. Washington alumni game in this section or among the Hoopfest links? We opted for here and included James Snook’s photo gallery. … Przemek Karnowski has signed with Charlotte for the NBA’s summer league play while Jordan Mathews picked New Orleans. Jim has those stories as well. … Eric Mika left BYU early but wasn’t drafted.

EWU: Jacob Wiley wasn’t drafted but like a lot of other local players, he’ll be playing in the NBA’s summer league. Jim Allen has the story of Wiley signing with the Nets.

Indians: Spokane’s pitchers had trouble throwing strikes and that led to the Indians’ fourth consecutive defeat, this one 8-5 at Vancouver. … In other Northwest League action, Tri-City won in its last at-bat again, defeating Everett 5-4. … Eugene coasted to a 15-5 win.

Chiefs: Kailer Yamamoto was the No. 22 selection in yesterday’s NHL draft, picked by Edmonton. The pictures on social media of him with Wayne Gretzky, who spends time at Gozzer Ranch in North Idaho, were priceless.

Hoopfest: The elite divisions of Hoopfest are featured on center court – and in the Sports section. I spent a few years covering it myself, which was fun as long as I could sit in the shade. Anyhow, Whitney Ogden has a preview of the weekend’s action. … There are always interesting stories from the event, including this one from Rachel Alexander.

Ironman: Teaching is hard. So is the Ironman. So why not do hard things? Jim Allen has a story on David Neale, a local teacher who is competing.

Mariners: It must be more fun for Dave Nichols to put together the Mariners Log when they are coasting to 13-3 wins. Though it isn’t any more fun to run down links.

Seahawks: Jimmy Graham reportedly has had a stellar offseason. Will it translate into a stellar season? … Cliff Avril made good on his promise to build a Haitian home for each sack.

•••       

• Last year was the first since 1990 we’ve missed Hoopfest, either as a player or a spectator. We are not missing it again. We’re off to downtown. We will return here tomorrow, unless the sunscreen doesn’t work. Until then …

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