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Thursday, June 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Hoopfest Men’s Elite preview: 51-year-old Shann Ferch back in over 6-foot division seeking third elite title

UPDATED: Fri., June 28, 2019

Shann Ferch has checked off about every notable Hoopfest box in his long, well-documented 3-on-3 basketball career.

Slam dunk and free-throw contest wins. A spectrum of team championships, including a pair of elite open men’s titles.

But the former Pepperdine guard and current author, psychologist and Gonzaga professor could never wrangle a 6-foot-and-under.

At 51 years old, Ferch’s once-fabled vertical leap isn’t what it was, and chasing small, shorter guards has become harder despite losing 55 pounds over the last 18 months.

“Chasing all those guards around gets harder at my age,” Ferch said.

So he’s back in the elite open division for the 30th edition of Hoopfest this weekend, competing against ex-college stars nearly 30 years his junior.

Some of them are on his team, including ex-Carroll College and Liberty High star Match Burnham, an NAIA first-team All-American this past season.

Burnham, a 6-foot-8 stretch forward, led the Saints to the NAIA national title game in March. His father, Blaze Burnham, won a Hoopfest elite title in 1993.

Former Shadle Park stars Andreas Brown (Central Washington) and Anthony Brown (Eastern Oregon) are also on the team.

“These guys are young and good,” Ferch said. “I’m just going to be the veteran who can give the team a little help.”

Ferch’s team – titled NBC Thunder – is in a bracket littered with former NCAA Division I standouts, including two-time defending champion Lee and Hayes.

Former Eastern Washington University talents Marc Axton and Parker Kelly have again teamed up with ex-Gonzaga wing Mike Hart and big man Ropert Lippman, who played at Division II Northwest Nazarene.

Ferch, who has helped coach many of the Spokane area’s top players at NBC Camp, is quite familiar with Kelly’s game.

“I remember Parker working to get open and dribble moves when he was in seventh grade,” Ferch said. “Being able to play against these guys when they’re older is pretty awesome.”

Hoopfest regular Roots Academy, a team loaded with former Northern Arizona University players Kelly Golob, Ryan McDade and Josh Wilson, is back. It won an elite title in 2014 and finished second in 2017.

Roots Academy also picked up Kyle Randall, a former Central Michigan star who played in the NBA G-League last season.

Former Post Falls High and Montana State star Marcus Colbert’s squad – RNU Alumni – features fellow fellow MSU alums Ryan Shannon and Mike Dison and former Cal Poly forward Zach Gordon.

Pay Up seeks repeat

Darrell Murphy (North Seattle CC), Brian Johnson (Seattle University) and Mike Johnson (Western Washington) teamed up to win a elite 6-foot-and-under men’s title last year.

With the addition of former University of Victoria (British Columbia) guard Marcus Tibbs, Pay Up is seeking a repeat.

But it will have to fend off a Wellness Tree squad that features 2014 NAIA Player of the Year Preston Wynne and Desert Horse, which won three titles from 2014-2016.

Desert Horse includes Hoopfest stalwart and former University of Montana guard JR Camel, his nephew and former Montana guard Zach Camel, and Matt Luedke, a former Montana Western star.

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