KINGSTON — Down the hall they came: six kids, of various ages, heights, and ability, each dribbling a basketball.
The youngest of the six was using two hands, batting the ball down towards the floor then catching it wearily as it came back up.
Any other day of the year and this would be an unusual sight. But during the Kingston Hip Hop Hoop Shoot last Saturday, Kingston Junior High filled with hoopsters of all ages, waiting for games, driving to the hoop, and dribbling, dribbling, dribbling.
When they weren’t dribbling, the kids were coming up for more creative uses for a basketball. One younger player rolled a ball bowling-style down a hallway while waiting for a game.
But mostly the event was about playing. More than 70 teams from third grade to high school hit the court to prove their mettle against similarly-aged competition.
Tyler Seth, a sixth-grader from Poulsbo with the Cal All-Stars, a canny veteran of two previous Hoop Shoots, assessed this year’s tournament: “This year it’s funner,” he said. “I’m enjoying it more.”
Seth said the enjoyment he was getting out of the Hoop Shoot and the fact that he was headed to the championship game was merely coincidental.
Instead, Seth said, the fun came out of playing with — and against — his friends from around the county.
His teammates agreed.
“I like it, because I get to play with all my friends,” said Kyle McCown, another sixth-grader.
“I like playing a lot,” said Jack Clearman, another Cal All-Star. “This year I know more people, so I see more of my friends here.”
The Hoop Shoot, which draws kids from all over the Olympic Peninsula, is in its thirteenth year. It was started by some bored young teenagers who wanted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament to help fill a long summer weekend — Kingston’s Cy Wyse was also instrumental in getting the event started. Eventually it grew and moved from the Kingston Marina parking lot, where it began, to Kingston Junior High. The twice-yearly event became once a year — and became one of the events local kids look forward to.
I’ve been playing (in the Hoop Shoot) since third grade,” said Miranda Ejde, now an eighth-grader. Ejde’s Poulsbo NK team had just played a tough game against NK Dream.
“I just love playing basketball so much,” she remarked.
Ejde said there is a distinct advantage to being neighbors and friends with your opponents: “You know all their weaknesses and strengths,” she said.
The day kicked off with several competitions, including hot spot and three-point competitions. Then the games got underway. Each game was 15 minutes long, and there were as many as six games going on at one time.
That still left plenty of time and space for highlights: a few older players stopped to appreciate the a fourth-grade team whose players employed quick crossovers, no-look passes, and bunny hops into the lane to bust past their opponents.
One such move — a head-bobbing no-look pass — drew appreciative catcalls from the older observers.
The name of the younger team was the Gig Harbor Hot Sauce, proving that at the Kingston Hip Hop Hoop Shoot, you can be creative off the court as well.