Janelle Bekkering and YYC Canada didn’t need a fourth player to capture a Hoopfest women’s elite championship last summer.
They added one this year, though, in former Simon Fraser guard Robyn Buna, and all she ever did was earn her country’s highest college basketball honor: Canadian Interuniversity Sport Player of the Year.
Bekkering, a former star at Gonzaga, brings back an all-Calgary team, including longtime friend Stephanie Price (Lethbridge University) and Kimberly Lee (Waterloo University).
“We have good chemistry,” said Bekkering, who helped Gonzaga reach the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight in 2011. “We’re just a group of nice Canadians who know how to pass the ball.”
YYC Canada and a group of friends playing in the men’s elite division, Team Canada, arrived in Spokane on Friday in a van, ready to enjoy the experience and the scenery.
“We want to win, but if we don’t we make a trip out of it,” Bekkering said. “We go camping, road trip, explore.”
“But if we do win,” Price chimed in, “it will taste that much sweeter.”
At 6-foot-1, Bekkering provides the size for YYC Canada, along with Buna (5-foot-11) and Lee (5-foot-10). Like Price (5-foot-6), each has ability to shoot.
Looking to dethrone the Canadians is the Gonzaga-loaded Globe Thotters, which features Jazmine Redmon, Shaniqua Nilles and Elle Tinkle. Tinkle’s sister, Joslyn Tinkle, played at Stanford and is also on the team.
A team of some of the nation’s top prep basketball players, Stars and Stripes, is also in the elite women’s division, three months after winning a USA Basketball 3-on-3 U18 national championship. High school seniors-to-be Samantha Brunelle (Ruckersville, Virginia) and Aliyah Boston (Worcester, Massachusetts) are ranked No. 1 and No. 7, respectively, in the 2019 class by HoopGurlz.com. Brunelle has committed to Notre Dame. Their teammates, Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere, Washington) and Paige Bueckers (Eden Prairie, Minnesota) are ranked No. 5 and No.7 in the 2020 recruiting class.
BAMM looks to repeat in elite co-ed
Brothers and Mt. Spokane products Matt and Michael Dorr teamed up with former EWU hooper Brianne Ryan to win last year’s elite co-ed division, along with brother, former Campbell University guard Andrew Ryan.
Matt and Michael, who played at the University of San Diego and Carroll College, respectively, could get a stiff test from a team of former NCAA Division II hoopers, Anything But Bland.
Sisters Shannon and Lexie Bland, both from Ellensburg, played at Cal State-East Bay and Western Washington. They’re teamed up with Central Washington alumni Jerome Bryant and Jawan Stepney.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.