Blazing baskets at Hoops on the River

The celebration of charity and athleticism is one hot event this year, drawing thousands

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 
photoVancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt drives to the basket during the 2011 Celebrity Match at Hoops on the River Saturday. The game pitted local celebrities on the Vancouver All-Stars against members of the KPTV News Team.

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photoKevan West stuffs the ball into the hoop to win the Hoops on the River slam dunk contest Saturday. The Prairie High School alumnus beat Brett Ball in a dunk-off after the two tied in the initial round.

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Despite sizzling-hot concrete magnifying the hottest day of the year, more teams than ever showed up Saturday to compete in the sixth annual Hoops on the River basketball tournament. More than 200 teams signed up for the 3-on-3 basketball event benefitting Share.

Organizer Susan Oberst estimates Saturday’s event at Vancouver Landing drew 8,000-10,000 people, about as many people as last year.

“The heat seems to keep some people at bay,” she said.

In anticipation of what might be a one-day heat wave, Oberst brought in several misters Friday night and placed them throughout the competition area. Organizers also kept ice chests with cold water at each court for volunteers and referees. And throughout the day, announcements reminding people to stay hydrated and find shade boomed over the loudspeakers.

As the temperatures climbed, players and spectators seemed to heed the advice.

Pink-cheeked kids huddled around the large misters to cool off after their games. Spectators relaxed in the shade and munched on flavored shave ice.

Teammates Kaylee Harteloo, Sydnie Cole, Hannah Wrightson and Meghan Vandermaas found refuge in a shady area of the park after the first of their three games Saturday. They stayed hydrated by drinking water and Gatorade and eating plenty of fruit.

“The hottest day of the year, and it lands on Hoops on the River,” Wrightson said.

The girls agreed the sunny day meant lots of sweat and horrible tan lines. Still, they welcomed the warm weather.

“I wish it happened earlier in the summer,” Vandermaas said.

All four girls will attend Hockinson High School in the fall and plan to try out for the basketball team.

Temperatures were already hovering around 80 degrees at noon when local celebrities took to the court for the 2011 Celebrity Match. The Vancouver All-Stars — Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, County Commissioner Steve Stuart, Clark College President Bob Knight and Albert Angelo III with The Al Angelo Co. — beat the KPTV News Team 8-4 in the 20-minute half-court game.

The winners of the celebrity game helped judge the slam dunk contest.

Prairie High School graduate Kevan West bested the six other competitors. West, who plays basketball for Concordia University in Portland, took the title with an under-the-leg dunk that earned him a perfect score.

That was only the second time West had made the dunk in a year of attempts.

Saturday was West’s first time appearing in the Hoops on the River event, where he also played on a team and volunteered.

“I think it’s just awesome, especially for the cause,” West, 21, said of the event. “That’s honestly the only reason I’m here, for Share.”

Like the Hockinson high-schoolers, West embraced the 90-degree day.

“I used to live in Texas, so I love it,” he said. “It’s warm but better than the weather we’ve been having.”

The National Weather Service is predicting another warm day Sunday but forecasters don’t expect temperatures to climb into the 90s again — just sunny skies and a high of 88 degrees.

Hoops on the River championship games begin at 9 a.m. Sunday with the three-point shoot-out, and wrap up at 3 p.m. The event at Vancouver Landing, west of the Red Lion Hotel at the Quay at the foot of Columbia Street, is free to spectators.

Marissa Harshman: http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com; 360-735-4546.