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Hoopfest on the horizon for WSU students
Published 6/26/2013 6:00:00 AM
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The city of Spokane stops for Hoopfest.

Spokane Hoopfest, the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world, will include over 7,000 teams playing on 450 courts June 29-30 in downtown Spokane.

The two-day event will also cover 42 city blocks.

Being only a little over an hour outside Pullman, the event draws many WSU students as spectators and competitors.

Brett Ward, a WSU senior English and education major, plans to attend the tournament this weekend with his team, making this their fourth appearance together as a group.

"It’s one of our favorite weekends of the year," Ward said. "It takes me back to the glory days of high school."

Ward said he started competing in Hoopfest when he was about eight years old, making this his 14th appearance in the tournament.

Before the tournament starts, Ward said his team likes to look at the section brackets and shoot around on the tournament courts the night before the games begin.

"The atmosphere is amazing," Ward said. "For two square miles of Spokane, it is all basketball courts."

This year, Ward said the hardest challenge of preparing for the tournament has been trying to find the time to practice with the team.

As the team stands, Ward said the group lacks a quick guard and overall height, but still needs to block out opponents and contest shots.

In previous years, Ward said his teams have placed first in different age groups six times, but never in the elite category.

"We play off each other really well," Ward said. "We have to make sure we finish possessions."

Several years ago, Ward said his favorite Hoopfest moment occurred when he made a two-point game-winning shot with only seconds remaining on the clock.

The win gave his team a one-point victory in the Championship Game of the loser’s bracket in the tournament.

Since competing in Hoopfest, Ward said there is also extra motivation for teams in the tournament when they match up against groups from other states and universities.

"I don’t like the Zags that much," Ward said. "There is more motivation to beat the team no doubt, and I want to represent my school well."

Devin Jones, a senior sport management major, has been on Ward’s team for four years and entered in his first Hoopfest tournament in the second grade.

Since joining the tournament, Jones said he has won four times in youth, co-ed and adult divisions.

"It’s a nice summer event to look forward to," Jones said. "It gets chippy and competitive with everyone trying to win, but it is a great environment."

Jones said there is an estimated 250,000 people on the streets of Spokane on the final day of the tournament and people can barely move sometimes.

Kyle Wade, a junior education major, said he began competing in Hoopfest about three or four years ago, and since, it has become a tradition.

Wade’s team did not play well last year, he said because their group only had three players and no substitutions.

"We lost big leads and we were winded throughout games," Wade said. "I’m looking forward to playing better this year."

Wade said there is a special atmosphere to Hoopfest, resembling that of Disneyland with the mass amounts of people.

In past years, Wade said he competed against players from states such as Iowa and Montana, as well as elite teams, which include players from all over the country.

"As a fan it is great to see them up close," Wade said. "Seeing that difference of talent level and age difference is cool."

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