As students graduate college and move on to the next phases of their lives, there are a few things that bring them back to the friends they made in school. Every year Hoopfest, the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world, does that for GU students.
More than 20,000 players laced their sneakers and hit the streets of Spokane to play in the 24th Hoopfest. On Sunday night, a uniting of old GU friends took home the top honor as best team in the tournament.
Former Zags players, Josh Heytvelt, David Pendergraft and Alex Hernandez, of team Douglass Properties took down Luster Construction, 20-12, for their second straight Men’s Six Foot and Over Elite Division Championship.
Douglass Properties didn’t drop a game the entire tournament. The team’s closest game came in the bracket quarterfinals against Aeroplane early Sunday morning. Both teams were tied at 12 before the Properties went into the post with the 6-11 Heytvelt too much for the smaller defenders. Of the 20 points scored, eight were off Heytvelt free throws.
In the championship game, it was a team effort with Nik Raivio the leading scorer for Properties. The game was scrappy with both teams wearing down after a weekend full of physical basketball under the sun. It was filled with both teams diving for loose balls and numerous players going into the stands to save balls. It stayed close until the teams were tied at nine. Then Properties went on a seven-point run with Raivio hitting the game-winning bucket on a drive.
“It is fun you know. It is a great thing for Spokane, lots of people, lots of good basketball and I just love playing with Pendo and those guys,” Heytvelt said. Heytvelt was last year’s MVP and is currently playing professional basketball in Turkey.
Pendergraft and Hernandez both work at GU after stints teaching and working around the Northwest. Their other teammate, former University of Portland player Nik Raivio, took home this year’s MVP trophy. Nik is the brother of Derek Raivio, a former GU player.
“It is unbelievable. It definitely brings back a lot of memories playing with these guys I’ve known for a long time,” said Hernandez, who is an administrative assistant for the men’s basketball team. “They are a big part of the program. Obviously, I work for the program now and it’s a good atmosphere. We haven’t played in a while so we are trying to go at this trying to win it.”
They weren’t the only former Zags players to play on the Nike Center Court for the championship. Vivian Price, former women’s team player, competed but ended up losing in the final. Also, Colin Floyd, Ira Brown and Jay Sherell all teamed up but failed to make it the final four of the Elite division brackets.
But in the end, the two local players led their team to titles. Pendergaft, who is a native of Brewster, took away his fourth championship. It was Heytvelt’s, a Clarkston, Wash., native, sixth time competing.
“It is wonderful. You can see in just walking around this event and being a part of this event, the Spokane community is awesome. They are so supportive and to be able to put something like this on it is quite amazing,” Pendergraft said.
Story and photos by Adem Arac