Airmen land on top, again |

Airmen land on top, again

G. Sean Kelly
GSPI Sports Editor
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson

The last thing the Lost Planet Airmen needed for this summer’s Hoop d’Ville 3-on-3 basketball tournament was another advantage.

They got it anyway, with some help from Mother Nature, when the rain forced the “Shootout at Sayre Park” to move indoors and essentially turn into the “Manhandling at the Middle School.”

“There’s no question playing indoors is an advantage for us,” said the Airmen’s Paul Caine, pointing to the finesse style the team plays. “To be honest, we were pretty excited when we heard it would be at the middle school.”

Although the venue changed from under the hot sun to under the Glenwood Springs Middle School roof, the result was the same. The Airmen took the bobblehead trophy for the third straight year with a 30-16 victory over The Bricks in the championship game.

“We’re getting up there in age. I don’t how long we can keep doing this,” Caine said after the win.

Yes, the Airmen ” consisting of Caine, a former standout prep at Basalt High, and Glenwood Springs graduates John Doose, Mike Vidakovich and Jason Rand ” were one of the oldest teams in the tournament, without a 20-something player on the roster. Of course those “old” legs hold up a bit better when all the other teams are forced to play more games.

The Airmen were efficient, going unbeaten in five games, while all the other teams had to muscle through the losers’ bracket for a shot at the two-time defending champs.

The Bricks played the Airmen tight in their first meeting in the tournament, losing by just two points in the semifinals. But a losers-bracket game seemed to take some of the hop out of The Bricks, and the Airmen cruised to a relatively easy win in the title contest.

Up comfortably 20-13, Caine essentially sealed the contest with back-to-back treys and a 26-13 lead. Vidakovich hit a jumper and the Airmen closed out the game with a nice drive-and-dish from Rand to Caine for the easy bunny.

Hoop d’Ville tournament organizer Michael Picore has been fortunate over the past five years. His outdoor tournament had never been canceled due to weather.

The luck ran out Saturday, as heavy rains forced the event to find cover.

Fortunately, Glenwood Springs Middle School athletic director Blake Risner, armed with a set of keys to the gym, was there in the time of need.

“Thank God for Blake Risner,” Picore said. “If it wasn’t for Blake, this tournament wouldn’t have happened.”

The ambience certainly changed a bit and the lighting and surface changed the game some, but the tourney took place with a solid turnout of 16 four-man teams.

And Risner, who got the early call for help while up at the Run For your Life race in Carbondale, got a little bonus, too. He wasn’t signed up to play, but hooked up with The Hot Dogs in the morning that ended up winning the Toilet Bowl trophy. The Toilet Bowl went to the team that won a mini-tournament between the first teams to be knocked out of the double-elimination tournament.

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