Hoopsters out in force

  • By Bob Mortenson / Herald Writer
  • Monday, August 15, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

TULALIP – The concession stand burgers cost a few bucks, but with 15 games going on simultaneously, there were more hoops hot dogs to be relished than even the most ardent fan could gulp down in a two-day sitting.

The Tulalip Casino I-5 Extravaganza 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament drew more than 200 teams to the casino parking lot last weekend for hoops, hoops and more hoops.

OK, it’s not exactly Spokane Hoopfest – not yet anyway. There each summer more than 20,000 players – and up to 150,000 fans – gather for the nation’s largest 3-on-3 basketball love festival.

But, in just its second year, the Extravaganza, sponsored by the Tulalip Casino to benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County, is moving in the right direction.

“Last year we had 110 teams and we’ve doubled that,” said tournament coordinator Charlie Cobb of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County.

Cobb estimated on perhaps the hottest weekend of the summer some 3,000 fans skipped the beach or the pool to take in the sizzling asphalt action. Hey, where else can you watch, or play, basketball in your sunglasses?

Cobb and his crew had their hands full, managing 17 competitive divisions ranging from fourth-grade boys and girls through the men’s open category. The latter group was the largest with 28 teams. There were 34 co-sponsors and 20 vendors supporting the event.

For the uninitiated, 3-on-3 basketball is played on a single hoop. The fast break and the cheap cherry picker are nowhere to be found. Instead, inside-outside and in-your-face defense reign supreme. Games were played with modified gym rat rules.

Journey Perry, a junior-to-be at Kamiak High School played with three high school chums. It was the third 3-on-3 tournament of the summer for the group, which included Blake Engelbert, Jesse Swarthout and Lance Martinez.

“This (tournament) will just continue to grow as more kids north and south get wind of it,” predicted Michael Martinez, who coached the team.

What is the attraction of these 3-on-3 events?

“It’s more physical,” the 6-foot-4 Perry said above the din of Stevie “Guitar” Miller blasting over the P.A. system. “Sometimes you’ve got to grease the old elbows to keep them sharp, you know what I mean?”

Perry’s unit changes its name as the situation dictates. En route to Spokane in late June for Hoopfest they stopped for a swim. After repeatedly leaping off a ledge into a lake they emerged from the water and decided to call themselves “Cliff Jumpers.”

For the Extravaganza their moniker was longer than Mr. Spock’s first name.

It seemed all of the games were hard-fought affairs.

In an eighth grade girls contest, Marjie Heard banked in a bucket with 10 seconds remaining to help her Snohomish Basketball Association team clinch a 12-10 victory over a Triple Threat team.

“Both teams did a great job,” her father, Jeff, said.

In a heated men’s open division battle Darrell Walker – a former Marysville-Pilchuck standout who went on to play at Everett Community College, Eastern Washington University and Seattle Pacific University – dropped in a reverse layin to lift a unit that included incoming Edmonds Community College coach Nate DuChesne to a 16-12 triumph.

No whistle was blown when one of Walker and DuChesne’s teammates had his jersey virtually shredded to pieces. While a referee was assigned to each game in the youth through high school divisions, in the adult open division players called their own game with a court- side monitor arbitrating situations or taking control as referee if deemed absolutely necessary.

“There’s some serious men’s ball here today,” Cobb said. “There are some guys that can really play.”

Cobb – a former Cascade High School coach who was inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame last month – ran the event with the energy of a tireless point guard.

He paused briefly to exchange a hug with Mike Jones, a 1996 Cascade graduate who later played at Edmonds Community College and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

“This guy used to play for me years ago, back when the earth was still cooling,” Cobb said.

Said Jones: “He’s definitely on the short list of greatest coaches I’ve had.”

Jones, 6-foot-10 in flip-flops with the girth of your standard front door, was fixing to change into sneakers to play with a group that called themselves “For the love of the game.”

“Win or lose we’re out here to have fun,” Jones said.

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