Feeling at home with hoops
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Behold, the aging athlete.
There was a group of adults, some well past their prime, who gathered Saturday for a sporting endeavor where the ultimate prize to be won was a successful journey back to a time of glory and 365 days worth of bragging rights. Sprinkled in was a mix of high school hopefuls who want to run circles around the old guys, a good team of past and present Glenwood Springs High girls hoops players
The testosterone and estrogen concoction became the annual Sayre Park basketball tournament known as Hoop D’Ville.
The man who has put this gathering together for the past 15 years is Mike Picore, a basketball junkie in his own right who saw his team, the Fightin’ Whities (Chris Hoffmeister, Kyle Kappeli, Tyler Thimsen, Daniel Koski, Ryan Parker, and Picore) place third in the very competitive 13-team field.
Picore enjoys seeing basketball players of all ages come together for a day in the hot summer sun each year on the asphalt slab just east of Grand Avenue for this tournament, which is a benefit for the Colorado Animal Rescue Shelter and area prep teams.
The two teams that proved to be the fittest and most talented on the day were the ageless Hyenas, a group made of mostly former Glenwood High standouts, and the Mavs/FLC, a team of past Colorado Mesa and Fort Lewis College roundballers.
With the tournament featuring a double-elimination format, the Hyenas, who had lost an early-round game to the boys from Mavs/FLC, were faced with the daunting task of beating the former college thinclads two times in as many tries.
The Hyenas, (John Doose, Dorian McClelland, Jason Rand, Michael Palmer, Aaron Jewell, and Adam Pitre) looked every bit like the hunter that is their namesake, carving out a victory in a hard-fought game No. 1 of the championship round.
Palmer, a Basalt High School graduate, got things going for the Hyenas with a long 3-pointer to open the rough and tumble, foul-plagued playground game, which at times gave no resemblance to James Naismith’s beloved invention.
With the outside shooting of Doose and the all-around slashing game of Rand, the Hyenas managed a 30-27 victory after Jewell dropped in a nifty jumper from the top of the circle.
In the second game, Doose opened the final on fire by hitting two long 3-pointers and a driving layup along the baseline for an early 8-0 lead. Doose was feeling his oats, and he knew it was his time.
“I told myself I could do this. There’s no reason why we can’t win this,” said Doose, who was fighting leg cramps throughout the final series.
Mavs/FLC guard Dan Steffensen, undeterred by the physical play of his counterparts, hit outside jumpers and slashed to the basket enough times to score and keep his team close. When he hit a leaner in the lane to bring his team to within a point at 24-23, Steffensen knew, at that point, it was anybody’s game.
“I just kept going to the basket in spite of how physical the play was,” said Steffensen, a former guard at Fort Lewis. “I tried to not get frustrated and just play my game.”
The shots heard ‘round the world came from Steffensen’s backcourt mate Kurtis Murchison, a former Mesa walk-on player who made two big 3-pointers at the most opportune time to send his team to the title with a 30-24 victory.
“Anytime you are open as a shooter, you look to shoot. I got a couple of good looks at the basket and I didn’t hesitate,” said Murchison.
The champion Mavs/FLC were made up of Murchison, Steffensen, former Roaring Fork players Torrey Udall and Aaron Markham, and John Gabriel.
Many of the same faces will no doubt be back next year when Picore’s basketball reunion moves to a 16th year.
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Playing on the road at Cedaredge Tuesday, the Coal Ridge High School volleyball team scored a tough win in five sets, 3-2, over the Bruins.