THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: After two straight years without, Northern Idaho players enjoy the return of Hoopfest

It was a family tradition that took a two-year hiatus.

Of course, everyone else too.

Hoopfest returned to the streets — more or less — of downtown Spokane for the first time since 2019, as COVID-19 wiped out the past two years of the annual hoops meeting that began in 1990.

Center Court, moved to the American Pavilion tent at Riverfront Park, was a big hit, with fans sprawled out on the grassy hillside, in the bleachers and on the walkways above.

On Saturday morning at a Main Street pitch, Talon Twoteeth, his father James and Talon’s cousins ​​Jonathan Nomee and Emmitt White won their opener 20-14, mostly on the shot of Talon, who starred in 2020 Lakeside High Division 1A. II Champions.

“I’ve definitely gotten better at shooting better than I was in high school,” Talon Twoteeth said. “Looking at old tapes…man, I’m way better than I was.”

White was also part of that 2020 state title team, coached by James, who has coached the Knights for the past five years. Nomee played at Lakeside and graduated in 2013.

After graduating, Talon Twoteeth spent a year redshirted at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, then returned to Plummer, where he works maintenance at the Coeur d’Alene casino.

He said he wasn’t ruling out a return to college hoops.

I’m just going to keep working…I’m definitely going to keep my options open,” Talon said. “I will definitely think about it.”

Many local players gather at the Plummer Wellness Center to play hoop during the lunch hour – hence the name Noonball Hoopers.

James Twoteeth played on the only other Lakeside team to win a men’s basketball title in 1997.

“It means a lot to me,” Talon said of being able to play hoop with his dad. “He taught me everything. All I know is thanks to him. It’s really fun to play with him.

The Noonball Hoopers lost their second match of the tournament later on Saturday morning, then won twice in the afternoon in the losing group and will return to play this morning.

LATER Saturday morning, at a Spokane Falls Boulevard lot, former Post Falls High star Marcus Colbert drove to the basket, went up for a shot … and injured his left ankle when he fell on the defender.

He watched the closing minutes from the touchline, clutching his ailing ankle, as his Magic City side cruised to a 20-17 victory.

“Who…takes a load on the street?” said teammate Aaron McQuaid, who played basketball at Chelan High and Central Washington.

“I’m done,” Colber said. “I had surgery on that ankle, that’s why I stopped playing basketball.”

Colbert, who helped Post Falls win a sophomore state title in 2010, went on to play at Montana State. He played professionally for a season in Belgium before eventually returning home, where he works in property management.

“I came home (from Belgium) and went back to Montana State to practice (while he considered other professional offers) and the first race I blew my ankle, and that It was then that I had the operation. I never played again. »

But for the return of the Hoopfest, Colbert was looking to play again.

So was Deon Watson, who played AAU ball with Colbert growing up, and later played against him at Coeur d’Alene High, where he stood out in two sports.

So the AAU ball buddies joined forces, then added McQuaid and another player who was a Colbert teammate at Montana State. But when he couldn’t come, they were able to find another guy who had played JC ball in California.

“We’ve been doing this since we were kids, why not build a team? said Deon Watson. “He has a family, I’m starting mine, it’s great to go out in this atmosphere with someone you know.”

Watson, a pharmaceutical sales rep living in Spokane who says he tries to play 2-3 times a week, ended up sinking the winning basket as Magic City beat Game Six Klay.

Magic City then lost their next game on Saturday afternoon to Cookies and Kareem, and are expected to return to action this morning with an 8:30 game.

When he’s not working and training, Deon Watson is the proud brother of Anton, who carved out a fine career as a striker in Gonzaga.

“I love seeing my family succeed and pursue their dreams,” Deon said. “It’s definitely a blessing. From him watching me grow, to now me watching him, it’s a great sight to behold. I love it. It’s one of the few times I like to be away.

Deon then played football in Idaho, catching a touchdown pass as the Vandals won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2016.

Two years later, Idaho had moved to the FCS and returned to the Big Sky Conference.

“You see a lot of teams like Eastern…North Dakota State succeeding, and you look at Idaho as maybe one of those teams,” Watson said. “So I have no problem with the switch; as a competitor you always want to go up against the big dogs and some of the bigger competitors. There’s nothing like being able to compete (for) a game of bowls, like we did our last few years.

“I still want to go for FBS, but if you can compete at a high level at FCS, that’s just as well in my opinion.

Selfishly, yes, I want to go to a bowling game and be on TV, but I understand why they made the switch.

SHORTLY AFTER 1 p.m., on a Broadway pitch just up the hill from Anthony’s restaurant, Daffy Duck, Lola, Bugs and Taz entered the field and quickly clinched a 20-5 victory.

The Tune Squad at Hoopfest, complete with uniforms like those used in the LeBron James movie “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” featured fraternal twins Riply Luna (Daffy Duck) and Kolby Luna (Lola) from Kellogg High and Lake City High. Kolton Mitchell (Bugs) and Nathan Hocking (Taz).

Twins Luna and Mitchell played AAU ball together for years, as well as at Hoopfest.

“We’ve played with him in Silver Hoops, Coeur d’Alene Shootout, everything. I’ve won it with him before too,” Riply said.

“I thought it would be fun to get back together.”

While Mitchell and Hocking played AAU basketball around the country this spring, the Luna twins have been busy with a ball of a different shape — attending college camps and other football showcases.

The three of them went to Portland, as well as camps in Oregon, Idaho State and Montana. They just got back from camp in Missoula Friday night.

“I haven’t touched a (basketball) for a few months; I just focus on football,” said Riply, a left-handed quarterback.

Ditto Kolby, a wide receiver who shoots right-handed.

“I just got exposed, just got challenged by some players,” Kolby said of the benefits of going to all those football camps. “It’s good to be challenged and to play good competition.”

Both are excited for the upcoming football – and basketball – season, which will see Kellogg go from 3A to 2A, for at least the next two years. And the Wildcats were already a pretty good 3A team in both sports.

Although they haven’t played much hoop lately, they look forward to playing for Mike Martin, in his third season as Kellogg’s boys basketball coach.

“I love Mike,” Riply said. “I like his energy, I like his pace, I like being coached by Mike. He really knows the game. He’s very invested in the program; getting us ready for the summer league stuff; wants really want his players to develop and improve.

On Saturday, the Luna twins were expected to be ready for no-look passes from Mitchell, who will be Lake City’s starting point guard for a fourth season this year.

“He’s the greatest player I’ve ever played with,” Kolby said. “He can shoot it, he can score; his vision of the court is at the next level… he’s an incredible player.

“He really has no weaknesses,” added Riply. “He can go right and left, he can pass, he can shoot, he can score at all levels. Plays good defense, involves his teammates.

Officially nicknamed Da Squad on the bracket, the team won twice on Saturday and resumes play this morning at 8am.

Mark Nelke is sports editor for The Press. He can be reached at 208-664-8176, Ext. 2019, or by email to [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @CdAPressSports.






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