Gettin' Ready to Rumble (or Not)

by Michael Bowen

Right now, this moment, one of the teams you're going to face during Hoopfest this weekend is out on somebody's driveway, practicing their offensive sets -- the pick and roll, the give and go, the backdoor cut -- over and over. They're hedging over screens, blocking out, fronting the post player. They're planning to make you look bad. (And that ain't good.)

One formidable team, for example, goes by the name of "Twisted Sisters." Not only do they have years of experience, they just completed the fifth grade.

Samantha Pendleton goes to St. Mary's; Jade Faraca, to Opportunity; Hannah Nichols, to Summit; and the team's other Samantha -- known as "Sammie Jo" -- is Samantha Peterson. She goes to Sunrise Elementary.

Jade and Hannah have played soccer together since they were 6; Hannah has played a year of AAU basketball with Samantha Pendleton.

Hannah's dad Ron is the team's coach, "both official and unofficial." So how do the Twisted Sisters look in practice, coach? "We scrimmaged this week, and we'll probably scrimmage again next week or something," Ron Nichols comments. "The girls looked pretty loose and physical. In practice, we work on different things: screens, pick and roll, give and go, not overplaying on defense, ball movement."

What about the all-important question of uniforms? "We're going with tie-dye shirts, I think," says Coach Nichols. "I think they're blue and purple."

Sammie Jo, at a towering 5-feet-even, represents the Sisters' dominant inside threat. Hannah, says her proud father, "is probably our best ball handler and shooter," but surprisingly, she prefers to play defense. "I usually play point guard," says Hannah, "but this year I got stuck playing wing, and I got used to being without the ball." Her defensive role model? "I like Shaq. It's kinda interesting to see how somebody who plays a different position does it."

But whether they're with or without the ball, you know both Hannah and Jade are hungry: Last year, as part of the "Hyper Honeys," they won both games on Saturday, only to lose twice on Sunday.

At a somewhat higher level of play -- men's competitive, ages 18-25 -- you'll find a team consisting of Travis Sjostrom (6-foot-3, 210 lbs., age 23, played football at Whitworth before blowing out a knee), Corey Baldwin (5-foot-11, age 23, also a Whitworth grad) and Brandon Templeton (5-foot-10, age 18, Class of 2004 at Ferris, where he started as a junior and senior, averaged 18 points per game and was All-GSL "honorable mention, I think," until he quit in the middle of his senior year).

They're the "DCNW Stars." And DCNW stands for? "Um, I'm not sure. It's the name of a company -- my cousin's company," says Templeton. "I'm not sure what they do."

In past years, playing in highly competitive 6-foot-and-over brackets, Templeton has done well: "I've won twice," he says, "and always made it to Sunday -- in fact, I haven't lost at all on Saturday."

So they must be looking pretty good in practice? "I've been playing some, but we haven't really practiced," says Templeton. "I shoot around a lot at a park about a block from my house -- Ben Burr -- and I know they've been playing a lot. I think Corey is one of Travis' roommates."

But DCNW hasn't actually practiced together yet? "The three of us, no," says Templeton.

Oh well, there's always the first game for that.

Bresnahan Financial is composed of four guys in their 50s. Two of them live on the other side of the state; they only get together once a year, for Hoopfest. So they can't practice and must not be very good, right?

Guess again. Six-foot point guard Dan Steward played for WSU in the mid-'70s. Jim Bresnahan, 6-foot-3, was a Bulldog on the court and graduated from GU in '72. Oh, and these gray hairs have an inside presence, too: Dave Pounds and Jack State both played for Eastern back in the '60s. Jack is 6-feet-8-inches tall -- "he's shrinking," says Dave, "but I'll own up to it." As for Dave himself, he's 6-foot-7.

"We've been playing together for 10, 11, 12 years now," says Powers. Do they tend to make it through to Sunday? "On occasion," he chuckles. "We don't get together much now -- Jack's a retired schoolteacher, and Dan is a school administrator in Centralia. I work for DSHS."

The Bresnahan team plays in what might be described as the Taller Old Guys Bracket, but wins and losses aren't the focus at their once-a-year Hoopfest reunion. "We talk about off-the-wall things that various characters did -- mostly teammates, they were borderline crazy, you know -- and road-trip stuff. We catch up when we're at Jim's -- he has a huge barbecue at his home on Saturday night -- and our kids have progressed through this with us. They've played in a lot of Hoopfests, too."

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Publication date: 06/24/04

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About The Author

Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen is a former senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things.