After the national anthem flows throughout downtown Spokane speakers at 8 a.m. Saturday, Hoopfest will be off for its 31st season on the streets – with a virtual year thrown in to make it its 32nd year overall.
Vying for the elite titles are some familiar names from the past sprinkled in with some newcomers hoping to make their mark.
In the elite men’s 6-foot and over bracket, the former Lee and Hayes team of Mike Hart, Parker Kelly, Marc Axton and Robert Lippman is back to defend its back-to-back-to-back crowns.
Now named Hub Northwest, the team still consists of the former Gonzaga Bulldog (Hart), former Eastern Eagles (Kelly and Axton) and Northwest Nazarene and Northwest Christian grad (Lippman).
Hart, a 6-6 do-it-all player for the Zags during his career, was instrumental in the 2012-2013 season when GU grabbed its first No. 1 ranking.
In 2019, Hart helped shut down Bobby and the Boys 20-10 in the championship game.
Kelly was a part of EWU’s 2015 NCAA Tournament appearance and Axton was a three-time All-Big Sky Conference player when the Eagles made their first tournament in 2004.
Their first game will be Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on Northern Quest Center Court, which is now underneath the Pavilion.
Bobby and the Boys are back, but with three new players and a continued commitment to its Montana roots.
Returning is Bobby Howard, a Montana State grad who was a two-time All-Big Sky selection in the late 2000s before playing professionally overseas.
He is buoyed by his brother Brendan (Montana State Billings), Derek Selvig (Montana) and Kyle Erickson (Montana Western)
Brendan was a two-time Montana Gatorade Player of the Year and was named Mr. Basketball before a redshirt season in Cheney and a career with the Yellowjackets.
Selvig is a 7-footer who is the coach at Dickinson (North Dakota) State University. He played professionally in Germany after helping the Grizzlies to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.
Erickson is an assistant women’s coach for Pacific University in Oregon and was an NAIA All-American his senior season in 2012.
Their first game is 8:30 a.m. on JBL/Huppin’s Elite Division No. 3 backboard on Spokane Falls, just east of Howard Street.
The other teams to watch are Juiced Up and Trillest.
The dangerous women’s team is Tomato StreetBallers. All four players have played professionally in some capacity, with Stacy Clinesmith, former Mead Panther and current GU women’s assistant, leading the charge.
She is a four-time winner – consecutively – last winning in 2008 with team Tomato Street. In 2005, she won with GU Ballas.
Clinesmith was a state player of the year at Mead before a career at UC Santa Barbara. As a Gaucho, she graduated as the program’s fourth-leading scorer (1,565 points) and second in assists (647). She was selected by the Sacramento Monarchs in the second round of the WNBA draft.
She is joined by former Gonzaga Prep star and Oregon Ducks player Otiona Gildon.
Gildon won the USA Basketball 3-on-3 national championship in 2018 with three Ducks teammates. She works for Oregon’s women’s program.
She played overseas in Portugal and averaged a double-double during the 2019-20 season.
Also on the team are Erika Bean and Megan Huff.
Bean played for the University of Utah before a career in Greece. She was a graduate assistant for the Bulldogs last season.
The 6-4 Huff is from Federal Way, Washington, and played at Hawaii (2014-15) and Utah (16-19). In 2019, she was a third-round WNBA draft pick by the New York Liberty.
Their first game is 9:30 a.m. on JBL/Huppin’s Elite Division No. 1 backboard on Spokane Falls, just west of Stevens Street.
Three-time champion Desert Horse Elite (2014-2016) is back with JR Camel and Michael Jackson leading the way and Druw Allen and Kenny Magee backing them up.
Their first game is at 11 a.m. on JBL/Huppin’s Elite Division No. 7 backboard on Spokane Falls, just east of Stevens.
Their primary competition is Be Ball For Life and Squatch Boys.
Justin Bright, Preston Wynne, Dominique McClendon and Jason Carmichael are on Be Ball For Life.
Bright and Wynne played for the Community Colleges of Spokane.
Wynne was a star at Wellpinit High School before becoming the second Sasquatch player to surpass 1,000 points in 2012.
Bright is a two-time winner, in 2010 with No Ceilings and in 2017 as Charlie’s Gold with his brother Daniel.
McClendon went to Everett Community College and Carmichael has played semi-pro basketball.
Their first game is 11 a.m. on JBL/Huppin’s Elite Division No. 9 backboard on Spokane Falls, just east of Stevens.
The Squatch Boys are comprised of three former CCS players – Brad Johnson (Central Valley), Kevin Cameron (Central Valley) and Eric Holbrook (Priest River).
Steve Stockton, the former two-sport athlete at Whitworth, rounds out the team. Stockton is also looking to become the first Stockton to win an elite title at Hoopfest.
Their first game is 9 a.m. on JBL/Huppin’s Elite Division No. 9 backboard on Spokane Falls, just east of Stevens.
It has been two years since BAMM won its last Hoopfest coed title.
If not for the pandemic, BAMM – Matt Dorr, Mike Dorr, Andrew Ryan and Brianne Ryan – might be searching for its seventh consecutive title .
After becoming the third Hoopfest elite team to win four championships in a row, the squad is back for more.
The Dorrs, Spokane natives, are both former Mt. Spokane Wildcats. Matt went to the University of San Diego and Mike was a player at CCS and Carroll College. Both live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Brianne Ryan was an EWU star, racking up many conference awards.
Her brother, Andrew, was a guard at Campbell (North Carolina) College.
They will have some competition in the form of two recent high school grads and two still in high school.
Team wouldawonlastyeartoo has John Lustig, Asher Cai, Tennessee Rainwater and Brynn McGaughy.
Lustig just led Colfax to a fourth-place finish at the State 2B Tournament in March. In January, he committed to Lewis-Clark State to play basketball.
Cai, a soccer and basketball star, took the Colfax girls to the finals of the State 2B before falling to Warden. Cai is committed to Central Washington this fall.
Rainwater will be a senior for Davenport High this fall and has been recruited by Idaho, Idaho State, Central Washington and Carroll.
The 6-foot-2 McGaughy will be a sophomore for Colfax and had a dominating State B tourney.
Team wouldawonlastyeartoo will see how it matches up with BAMM quickly. The teams play in the second game of bracket No. 6 at 8:30 a.m. on JBL/Huppin’s Elite Division No. 1 backboard on Spokane Falls, just west of Stevens.