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Hoopla at the state capital

Annual basketball tournament attracts teams from Gervais and North Marion communities


by: PHIL HAWKINS - Members of the Gervais High School girls basketball program took part in the womens 17-and-under division of the 15th annual Hoopla 3-on-3 basketball tournament over the weekend in Salem. Above, Ariana Rios, Jelayna Bastidas, Andrea Villegas, Zina Oral, Tiana Jaramillo and Cassidy Rush take time for a quick group picture before splitting off to play against each other in the first round of competition. Teammates Sarah Delos Reyes and Valeria Vargas were included on the teams, but were not available to play for the first game.More than 3,400 athletes crowded the steps of the Oregon State Capitol over the weekend to take part in the 15th annual Hoopla 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

Of the estimated 850 teams to participate in the event, at least six teams from Gervais made the short trip to Salem to take part. The two days of street ball closed down roads and offered tournament play for 50 different divisions of adults on down to children age 8 and younger.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Zina Oral splits a pair of defenders for a layup.“This is my first year playing, but the other girls on my team, they played last year,” said Tiana Jaramillo, an incoming sophomore at Gervais High School and a member of the Cougars’ basketball program.

Jaramillo was joined by teammates Ariana Rios, Sara Delos Reyes and Andrea Villegas in the girls’ 17-and-under competitive division. Her team, Beauties and Beasts, lost 24-13 in the consolation finals on Sunday.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Ariana Rios is defended in the post by Cassidy Rush and passes off to teammate Andrea Villegas (not pictured)The team actually would have been better suited for the 15U division after the team’s lone 17-year-old — Reyes — was unable to compete. But the Beauties were too late to switch to a younger division, so they were forced to play against more seasoned competition.

“We weren’t able to get moved down to the 15U, so we were playing older girls,” said Jaramillo. “It was kind of fun, but really hard because they’re more experienced.”

Among the older competition they faced were fellow Gervais basketball teammates Cassidy Rush, Jelayna Bastidas, Zina Oral and Valeria Vargas — the e-LEMON-ators — who placed fourth overall in the division after falling 31-7 in the third-place game on Sunday.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Oral makes a move past Villegas at the top of the 3-point line.The two teams squared off in the opening rounds of the tournament on Saturday, with the e-LEMON-ators winning out over their younger counterparts. The two teams were competitive, but were clearly enjoying themselves on the court — a continuation of the girls’ summer athletic schedules together that includes work and commitments to various sports.

“All of us — we had a (basketball) camp going during the summer earlier,” said Jaramillo. “But we had other things like softball and volleyball, and we weren’t able to practice as much. So we weren’t in ‘basketball mode’ together and weren’t in sync when we played together.”

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Rios tracks down a rebound and attempts to take it past Oral to reset play at the top of the court.In addition to the girls’ teams, Gervais was also represented by Riley and the Boys, a team composed of Kyle Buse, Riley Rush, Daniel Thomas and Cole Church, which lost 36-28 in the Consolation Finals of the Co-ed Recreational Division.

Gervais was not the only community from North Marion County to play in the Hoopla, as a trio of former North Marion High School athletes won the Men’s Recreation Division 4 Championship on Sunday.

Former Huskies Adam Hayden, Kelly Christenson and Jordan McCain and their teammate Josh Grotting went 3-0 in round robin play on Saturday and followed up with a 5-0 performance on Sunday to finish on top of their tournament bracket, which featured 60 teams.

All three were members of the 2010 North Marion team that finished 16-11 overall and 10-2 in conference to claim the Capital Conference championship. Christenson was named Capital Conference Player of the Year as part of the last Husky team to win a conference title, and McCain still holds the school record for career rushing yards on the football team.

Overall, the four-day Hoopla event attracted an estimated 40,000 spectators and featured a number of special events in addition to the 3-on-3 tournament, including: hoop camp for kids, free throw contest, shooting contest, 3-point contest, dunk contest, skills challenge, a fun run and a 2-on-2 tournament on Friday.

The event featured guest appearances from former University of Oregon standout and NBA player Luke Jackson, current San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills and Willamette University Hall of Fame coach Gordie James.

More than $4,500 in prize money was awarded to the top five divisions of competition, and the event has raised more than $300,000 over the previous 14 years for local youth-based charities, including local high school athletics and activity groups.