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THE FRONT ROW with Jason Elliott June 30, 2010

| June 30, 2010 9:00 PM

While walking around the 21st annual Spokane Hoopfest over weekend, I witnessed a lot of different things.

However, the two events I didn't see coming when the day started are the events I'll remember from the latest chapter of the annual tournament.

EARLY SATURDAY, the games got off to a flying start, much like the previous 20 years.

As the games went on, some teams lost, others won.

However, as luck had it, the teams that I was over watching didn't have as good of luck as expected.

The first team of Crazy Animals, comprised of players from the St. Maries and Priest River area.

Everything went about as well as could be expected, the Animals winning the first game by a comfortable margin.

That was the final time they won over the weekend, as they lost the next two games to fall out of the tournament.

Looking down the list of names took me down toward River Park Square, where I met up with defending elite coed champions Fredred Crew and Coeur d'Alene assistant coach Apryl Brainard.

Much like the Crazy Animals, they went 1-2 and fell out of the tournament on Saturday.

After seeing the results, I thought I was bad luck.

STARTING TO believe I was bad luck, it began to change as the Wallace Pizza Factory took the court in a men's bracket.

They won their first game and went on to win the second to advance in the winners bracket, something that hadn't happened yet to any of the teams I was following.

From that point, I thought my luck was about to turn and I'd be in the midst of a potential champion.

That's when things got a little wacky.

Team captain Jamere Radford remained in the Riverfront Park area following the team's final game on Saturday when shots rang out that had nothing to do with basketball.

Three males had walked into the area by the water fountain and shot two individuals as what was believed to be a gang-related shooting.

All three shooters were charged in court on Monday afternoon.

"It was crazy," Radford said. "I was getting my hair braided about 300 feet away when I thought I heard gun shots. I didn't think much of it, then saw the cops running toward the fountains. I couldn't believe it."

None of the games or other spectators were affected, but the two that were injured were taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center with what turned out to be non-life threatening injuries.

WHEN LOOKING back at this year's tournament, it is kind of sad that I'll mainly remember this year's Hoopfest for something that has nothing to do with basketball.

More than 400 teams were crowned champions by the time the streets in downtown Spokane were reopened for traffic on Sunday night.

It's too bad this year's event is remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer with the Coeur d'Alene Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via e-mail at jelliott@cdapress.com.

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