The sun beat down as Hoopfest winners collected their prizes Sunday afternoon at the far end of Riverfront Park.
Teams shuffled their feet toward the booth, tired from a long weekend of basketball, as volunteers gifted players T-shirts for the first-, second- and third-place finishers in each bracket.
Lori Shauvin, a four-time Hoopfest volunteer, met each team with a smile as they approached. She guided them to the correct line and ensured they stopped by the photo booth to take a team picture to commemorate their finish.
Shauvin said she started volunteering after her son and granddaughter began playing in the tournament. Like many attendees of the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world, she was happy to be back.
“It’s great for Spokane,” Shauvin said. “It’s an economic booster, it gets people to come downtown and it gets kids engaged with basketball. If you can’t play, you can come out and volunteer.”
Sunday evening marked the end of Hoopfest 2022, which returned after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While turnout was lower this year compared to previous tournaments, thousands of competitors, spectators and vendors from near and far flooded into downtown this weekend.
Tacoma resident Brent Wilcox and his sons, Adam and Blake, spent Sunday afternoon celebrating their first championship win.
Brent Wilcox said they have traveled to Spokane and competed in the family bracket eight separate times. After a few close calls over the years, they finally laid their hands on the championship T-shirts Sunday.
“We’ve played in other 3-on-3 tournaments, and they don’t have near the amount of organization, the level of competition or this amount of teams,” Brent said. “It’s just crazy here, and that’s what keeps us coming back.”
Thirteen-year-olds Ronnie McCollough, Raymond Lynn, Barry Abrahamson and Delsin Holt went undefeated in their bracket to secure their first championship as well. As the four are all members of the Spokane Tribe of Indians, McCollough said it was rewarding to win on what was once their land before it was colonized.
Abrahamson said basketball is the main sport on their reservation in Stevens County. The four have been playing basketball together since they were 6 years old.
McCollough credited their success to their unique style of play. He said they kept up a run-and-gun offense all tournament, complemented by physical defense.
“You know, rez-ball,” he said.
McCollough added, “Where we grew up is really small, so we know each other really well. That’s what pushes us to be better and keep going.”
Blake Tanner, Tayshawn Edmo, Leroy Berland and Manny Mesteth traveled from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana to take home the title for the fifth- and sixth-grade boys tournament.
They usually play together on an AAU team that travels around the Pacific Northwest.
Manny’s father, Will Mesteth, took on the role of coach for Hoopfest, but said there are a group of fathers who rotate as head coach throughout the summer as they compete in various tournaments.
“There was no team that could stop us,” Tanner said. “We’ll be back next year.”
For the winners of the adult coed competitive bracket, Hoopfest served as an opportunity to reconnect with longtime friends.
Michael Coumont, Alysa Wolf, Parker Likes and Sydney Smith met while at college at Washington State University. Coumont said it was a good way for them to have fun while “getting the band back together.”
“The heat wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be,” Wolf said. “We played in front of the mall so we were in the shade with the tall buildings.”
Hoopfest medical director Dr. Nick Strasser said visitors did a good job of staying hydrated and avoiding heat sickness during Hoopfest. He said nearly half of the visits to the MultiCare clinics sprinkled around the festival grounds were primarily for taping of ankles, knees, wrists, etc.
The medical tents had nearly 1,000 visits during Hoopfest with 22 Achilles injuries, 51 fractures, 148 strains or sprains and 17 concussions. At the last Hoopfest in 2019, medical tents had around 1,800 visits for tournament-related injuries.
Aside from one major health scare in which a senior competitor died on the court after suffering a heart attack and was then resuscitated, Strasser said they did not see any major injuries or incidents.
He said the health care providers worked together smoothly and coordinated with MultiCare providers on both sides of the Cascades to ensure every patient had a follow-up appointment with a provider before leaving the medical tent.
“I grew up in Spokane, I played in it as a kid, so it’s just such a privilege to serve in this role and give back to the community,” Strasser said.
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