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by Inlander Staff

Starting Saturday just before 8 am, downtown Spokane will be transformed again into one giant pickup game. Nearly 25,000 players will lace 'em up on almost 400 courts. About 140,000 people are expected to make the trip into the forest of backboards on both Saturday and Sunday. When it's all over Sunday night, some will have T-shirts for their troubles, others just a scraped knee; everyone, however, will have memories that will last at least until next year.

We all know Hoopfest gets bigger every year, but it's getting better every year, too. In the marquee six-foot and over open division, last year's champs, local lads Phat Steppin' NBC Camps, will be back to defend, as will runner-up Team Atlanta, a regular on Hoopfest's Nike Center Court and a crowd favorite. Adding to the drama this year is a new contender, the Old Dogs, featuring graduated Zags Zach Gourde, Ryan Floyd, Jeremy Eaton and Carl Craigen.

And the basketball is just the beginning, as food, music and competitions round out the weekend.

Nike Center Court -- schedule of selected events (located in Riverfront Park near IMAX)

Saturday, June 28

Opening ceremonies 7:45 am

U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team 10:30 am, 2 pm and 5:10 pm

ComedySportz 10:50 am, 2:20 pm and 4:30 pm

Women's Slam Dunk Contest 12:30-12:55 pm

Men's Slam Dunk Contest 1-2 pm

Sunday, June 29

U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team 10:30 am, 12:40 pm, 5:50 pm

Women's championship game 3:35 pm

Men's 6 ft. and under championship game 5:20 pm

Men's 6 ft. and over championship game 6:15 pm (also on KREM-2)

Fun and Games -- Pick up a map at any Hoopfest tent ($1; teams get one per packet) to find the locations, or just wander around for a while; you'll find 'em.

Quad Jump (trampoline with harness); AT & amp;T Wireless Hoop Shoot; Regional Telephone Directory Fast Track Racing; WhiteRunkle Extreme Sports Challenge (one-on-one with bungee cords); Horizon/Alaska Airlines Twister Slide (inflatable fun); Tidyman's Jumping Castle; Wells Fargo Shootout Contest; 24-Hour Fitness 3-Point Shot Contest (finals on Sunday); Toyota Shoot for a Spyder (winner gets an MR-2 Spider with custom Spider-man paint job); Mountain Dew Code Red Countdown; Silverwood Very Big Hoop Shoot Contest (get entered in a Sunday prize drawing); Safeco Last-Second Shot; AAU Free Throw Contest (finals on Sunday).

Publication date: 06/26/03

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