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Street ball brings out the tough stuff

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POLSON — They’re a little tougher, a little rougher — and when a street basketball player takes a fall, he or she better be made of sterner stuff. The 24th annual Flathead Lake 3 on 3 basketball tournament was played in the asphalt streets of downtown Polson, curbs and all. More than 230 teams competed under the pristine Mission Mountain summer weather last weekend. “Playing in the street is a lot different than on the court,” Ronan’s Lee Camel said. “It is more competitive and you get to see who can take the heat.” Camel, along with her teammates Alicia Camel, Louetta Conko-Camel and Alyssia Vanderburg, took first place in the girls 11-12 grade division of the tournament. Camel and her team played four games to make it to the championship. “It can get pretty aggressive in street basketball,” Lee Camel said. “The refs make less calls in street, so you have to learn to play through it.” Taking first in the 11-12 grade boys division, Butte Bulldog Ryson Lovshin prefers street ball over his organized high school season. “In street ball it is more free,” Lovshin said. “I find that players and fans are more passionate and games get more intense.” Players were not the only winners of the weekend. Kevin Avison, part owner of The Cove Deli and Pizza, was in the center of it all and found success on his court — ice cream sales. “We sold 132 gallons of ice cream in one weekend,” Avison said. “This weekend is tremendous for the Cove; we are happy to be a part of this.” Avison said the large number of visitors brings in revenue for local businesses. “All the motels are full, restaurants have people in them and gas stations have long lines,” Avison said. “It is crazy.” Spectators listened to Anderson Radio Broadcast, ate Hawaiian shaved iced and cheered on their family members or friends. Grandmother and event worker Terri Biggs spent her weekend balancing between supporting her granddaughter, Madyson Currie, and organizing division brackets. “These kids are exhausted,” Biggs said. “The heat out here is physically draining and these girls have played six games in this weather.” Biggs coached the St. Ignatius Junior Varsity team for 25 years and loves sharing her coaching knowledge with her granddaughter. “I try to watch for things that she can work on or things that I can help her with,” Biggs said. “I just enjoy watching her play basketball.” She also sees the more aggressive type of basketball when it is played outside. “Athletes egg each other on during these tournaments,” Biggs said. “It’s a whole different type of physicality than on the hardwood court.”

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