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Flathead Lake 3 on 3 nets 285 teams

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Montanans love their basketball — an obvious conclusion with one look at downtown Polson this past weekend.

The 21st annual Flathead Lake 3 on 3 basketball tournament brought 285 teams to the hot asphalt streets for two days, playing 683 games on 24 half-courts.

Teams ranged in age and ability, from 10-year-old girls to co-ed teams to the “elite” men’s category. 

Dressed in sherbet shades of orange and yellow tie-dye — including socks — Miami Sunshine played their first ever 3 on 3 basketball game Saturday morning.

Polson schoolteacher Mark Rochin coached the team of 10-year-old girls. Huddling the quartet of pre-teens after their first loss, Rochin only had words of encouragement.

“Are we going to win the next game?” he asked.

Four heads shook “no.” 

“Yes!” he replied.

But later in the afternoon, the Morning Stars handed the rookies their second loss. Still, they fought hard, had fun and gained loads of experience.

On the other end of the scale, The Flying Guillotines of Missoula barely ousted the Outlaws, a team of local men. Despite an impressive three-pointer by Ronan’s J.J. Tanner at the horn, the locals fell 16-15. Shaking hands with the winners after their loss, Tanner, Sheldon Fisher of Polson and Calvin Shepard and Nakota McDonald of St. Ignatius said they are just happy they get to play again. 

As the sun dipped behind gathering clouds, crowds gathered above the river for Saturday night’s three-point shooting and slam-dunk contests.

Brittany Earnest of Missoula earned “overall bragging rights,” according to organizer Rich Forbis, after she out shot Anthony Camel, the three-point winner in the men’s category, in a just-for-fun match. Camel opened the men’s contest with 10 treys in just one minute, and held his lead over top qualifiers. Both Earnest and Camel earned $200 for their skills.

Style is key in the subjective slam-dunk competition. Connor Woodill, a Missoula Hellgate High grad and University of Montana Western ball player, won the event and $1,000. Four judges, including former Los Angeles Lakers great Michael Cooper, scored the contest. Cooper also helped pass the time between contests by pulling random audience members out to the court, calling them out for not clapping, and attempting to make them dance. They couldn’t return to their seats until they had shared a “high-five,” a tall order with the six-foot, five-inch, long-armed celebrity.

Overall, the hoop fest went off without a hitch.

“This year was fantastic, one of the smoothest ones,” Forbis said. “Everything worked well, with minimal injuries, and everyone had fun.”

Behind the scenes, 10 volunteers keep the portable hoops in top shape, and Steve Woll and Les Rice, Olen Paulson of the Mission Valley 3 on 3 events assist with the bracketing.

“They do a terrific job,” Forbis said.

With 21 years of experience organizing the contest, Forbis and volunteers will take a time out before planning begins in the fall for the 2014 event.


2013 Flathead Lake 3 on 3 Results


5-6 Grade Boys

1- Tropics

2- Wild Ice

3- Pirates


5-6 Grade Girls

1- Just Do It

2- Sparks

3- Lights Out


7-8 Grade Boys

1- Flathead Jazz

2- Cor12 Talons

3- Spokane Ballers


7-8 Grade Girls

1- Zootown Dream Team

2- Zoula

3- Valley Edge


9-10 Grade Boys


2- Hoop Schoolm 2

3- The Shadows


9-10 Grade Girls

1- Wolf Pack

2- Orange & Black Attack

3- The Ron’s


11-12 Grade Boys

1- Smokin’ Joes

2- Dillon

3- Caucasian Invasion


11-12 Grade Girls

1- Montana Mix

2- Triple TKA

3- Make it Drizzle



1- The Chimney Builders

2- The Lover Bees

3- Bear, Bobcat & Bulldog


Womens A

1- Just Put it In

2- Dub Step

3- Trout Slayers


Womens B

1- Zootown

2- Team Klacie Mathies

3- Strokin It


Open Recreational

1- TJ Yahtzee

2- White Grass

3- Team Sherwood


6’1 Under Elite

1- Desert Horse

2- Tall Day

3- The Lakers


Open Elite

1- Desert Horse

2- Bulldog Squad

3- The Penetrators


6’1 & Under Open

1- Rezz Dogs

2- Hoop School

3- Team Sansavere


3 Point Shoot Women

Brittany Earnest $200


3 Point Shoot Men

Anthony Camel $200


Slam Dunk

Conner Woodill $1,000


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