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Spokane Hoopfest returns

After COVID-19 cancelled the Spokane staple, the largest 3-on-3 tournament in the world is back downtown.

SPOKANE, Wash. —

Hooptown USA is the destination for 3 on 3 basketball. For 32 years, Hoopfest has been a Spokane staple, marked by thousands of teams and hundreds of courts throughout downtown. 

People said Hoopfest brings them back to where their love for basketball began.  

“When we were growing up, it starts out in the neighborhoods, playing in the parks, streets and that’s what this is," former player Bo Hannon said. "They’ve created that environment, here in the streets of Spokane.” 

Hannon said he began playing at Hoopfest in the early 1990s. He said Hoopfest is a part of the fabric that makes Spokane Hooptown USA.

"“The community backs it up," Hannon said. "It’s something they look forward to.” 

The love for Hoopfest isn't centralized to just Spokane. People said it's a unique experience that draws in people from around the world.

“You don’t just have people coming from all over the country, you got people coming from all over the world just to play in this tournament so it’s a big thing," player Everett Neal said.

Neal said he took time off work and traveled from North Dakota to be a part of Hoopfest 2022. He said for him, the tournament is like a ritual.

"As long as this knee still lets me play, I'm going to keep playing," Neal said. "I love to play ball."

According to Hoopfest, 24,000 players representing 44 states and 6 countries played in the las tournament back in 2019. 

Following the 2-year cancellation of Hoopfest, the tournament is making a slow return to pre-pandemic numbers. 

“When we get this going again, we’ll have 7-8,000 teams," Hannon said. "4 people on a team, that’s 28,000 players. Let alone the people that come with them.” 

Hoopfest has also seen a decrease in injuries compared to 2019. As of 4pm yesterday, medical tents saw about 450 patients. Sprains and strains were the main cause of injury, however there have only been 7 heat related incidents.

Early Saturday morning a player went under cardiac arrest after their game, but was resuscitated and is now recovering at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Medical staff at Hoopfest are predicting to have a lower injury rate than in 2019 when they saw almost 1800 patients. 

While this year’s Hoopfest numbers don't stack up to previous years, its return gives people a chance to live out their dreams. 

“Yeah, I was a little kid and I always wanted to be a good basketball player and play at Hoopfest at my age and I’ve accomplished that,” player Myckenze Mitley said.

Mitley is playing in the tournament with her Post Falls high school teammates. They said their chemistry and teamwork helped them win their first game and they believe it'll keep them on a winning streak.

Mitley and her team talked about the importance of women in sports and said they look up to the women who are playing in the elite divisions of the tournament.

"At the end of the day, we all bleed red," Mitley said. "If they want to play basketball, they should be able to play basketball. They can work just as hard as guys."

Outside of regular games, Hoopfest also features skill competitions and slam dunk contests. 

Saturday, games and other activities wrapped at 6 p.m. Sunday, basketball fans can look forward to elite championship games under the Spokane Pavilion and Riverfront Park central plaza.


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