Every Fourth of July, the Port of Bellingham, Haggen, and the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce partner to create a family-friendly celebration, and this year’s event included the Hoop It Up 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
The basketball tournament drew people of all ages, with 35 teams competing in 15-minute games from 10 a.m. to nearly 6 p.m. on four courts at Zuanich Point Park.
Hoop It Up is a national outdoor and indoor 3-on-3 program celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The program got its start in Dallas, Texas, and has spread across the country.
Kim Dennis, national event director for the program, said they are currently in about 25 cities.
“We stop once a year here in Bellingham,” Dennis said. “We think Bellingham, because they’ve had 3-on-3 here in the market before, it has great potential.”
The tournament welcomed boys and girls ages 8 and up this year, Dennis said.
JoAnne Dutton, a Haggen employee and scorekeeper at the tournament, said the teams compete against each other in roughly the same age groups. The youngest team she saw was a group of soon-to-be third-grade boys, she said.
As the afternoon drew to a close, each division competed in semi-final and championship games to crown each division’s champion.
The winners of the youth co-ed division were the Dawson Ballers, coached by Western men’s basketball head coach Tony Dominguez.
The winners of the adult competitive division were the Foster Group Realty, which was composed of four ex-college players. The players went to local colleges; Drew Reddy played for Western, David Seversen played at Northwest Indian College, J.B. Pillard III played for Central Washington University and Evan Jordan played at Skagit College.
Hoop It Up is now partnered with the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA), as there is a push to make 3-on-3 basketball an Olympic sport in time for the 2020 Olympic Games, Dennis said.
Dennis said Hoop It Up sees great potential in Bellingham as a destination and possibly as a host for one of the qualifying events for the FIBA Global Championship.