EVERETT — Quincy Smith forgot his basketball shoes.
The 10-year-old grinned below towering Funko figures downtown. The smell of kettle corn mingled with a sweaty crowd. It was Day One of Everett’s inaugural 3-on-3 tournament and three square blocks of pavement were transformed into dozens of makeshift courts.
Smith decided to roll with it. In his first game that morning, he sported black Crocs with cartoonish charms clicked into them.
He pointed to the right shoe: “These are anime ones my brother gave me.”
Then to the left: “And this one says, ‘I love hot sauce.’”
Did the rubber shoes slow him down?
“Well, we won,” Smith’s 9-year-old teammate chimed in.
By a landslide. Something like 20 to 2, the tiny team happily reported.
The shindig continues on Sunday.
“We definitely have a few guys in their 60s that are playing,” organizer Rick Steltenpohl said. “We also have some 8 and up. All abilities are playing.”
Some players compared Saturday’s festivities to Hoopfest, the biggest outdoor 3-on-3 b-ball tournament on the planet. That makes sense, considering Steltenpohl and his business partner have ties to the famous Spokane event. Each year, the Lilac City hosts hundreds of ad-hoc courts — yellow tape slapped on pavement — drawing teams from across the country to enjoy the sweet summer staple.
Steltenpohl and Aaron Magner both helped start Hoopfest. They left Spokane years ago, though, and have been organizing 3-on-3 tourneys across the country. Steltenpohl envisions the Everett event growing each year, getting rowdier with costumes and other shenanigans.
Teams are already getting creative.
On Colby Avenue, Father’s Yacht recouped after “taking an L,” according to Mitchell Stringer.
Nobody on the four-person team has a yacht-owning dad. They like to pretend they have rich dads, though, said Stringer, who sported a Coach fanny pack.
“It makes us feel better when we blow our own money,” teammate Chance Morgan said.
They dropped some cash Friday night for their newly established pre-game tradition: happy hour at Applebee’s.
The team met at Central Washington University. The downtown games are the first time they’re playing together. They’re still figuring out their good luck charm, although Stringer figured it’s “probably just a nice pat on the butt.”
Everett 3-on-3 isn’t just for teams, either. Sign up at the information booth to show off your moves in a 3-point contest and a skills challenge.
Steltenpohl even managed to wrangle some pros from the “dunk community” for a slam-dunk contest. Register by 11 a.m. Sunday for a chance to win $1,000.
On Saturday, lawn chairs lined the sidewalks in front of barber shops and comic book stores. Parents cheered over referee whistles and Katy Perry tunes playing over the sound system.
Download the Everett 3-on-3 app to check out an events schedule and a map. Or just to peruse clever team names. There’s the Pinoy Boyz, a group of young kids who go by Pink Fluffy Unicorns, a 35-plus team called Old and Living, and another called Nothing But Age.
Canh Tren revved up for his first game Saturday morning. He was already daydreaming about what he’d get to chow down on afterward.
“We like bánh mì. That’s why our name is Bánh Mì Boyz,” Tren said. “I’ll probably get one today after this.”
His team had just played Hoopfest in Spokane.
“I think it’s cool that Everett’s finally hosting a tournament,” Tren said.
Local squad SnoPeak won both their games by Saturday afternoon. The teens from Snohomish and Glacier Peak said they’d be happy to return next year. They had fun talking to other teams, like the Sandwich Squad. At a start-of-game coin toss, SnoPeak’s Jada Andresen posed a question to her competitor: “So, do you think a hot dog’s a sandwich?”
Andresen swore it wasn’t any sort of mind game. But while the Sandwich Squad contemplated why a half-split bun disqualified a hotdog but not a Subway footlong, SnoPeak secured their first victory of the day — 20 to 2.
In total, 200 teams are competing this weekend.
Even Everett Deputy Mayor Nick Harper was balling out.
His team, Dreezy and da Knicks, was decked out in tie-dye. City employee Nichole Webber and her wife, Andréa “Dreezy” DePaolo, wore matching Hoopfest shorts for good luck.
Less than a quarter of the teams were made up of women or girls, so Webber played on two teams to bolster the brackets. She caught an elbow in the face earlier that morning.
DePaolo grinned: “It’s hard in these streets.”