For some, round ball is merely a fun game but for others, it’s an unquenchable test of determination between an athlete, an orange ball and a ten foot high hoop.
For the 297 player-athletes who participated in the Second Annual Bonners Ferry Swish Basketball Tournament, both sides of the spectrum collided in two days of competitive action, positive sportsmanship and athletic finesse.
Main Street rocked with energizing music as 76 teams engaged in sometimes fierce competition under the basketball hoops, breezy winds alternately blowing hot and cool. The street was filled with cheers from the fans, energy and enthusiasm from the players and the constant thump of basketballs hitting pavement.
Many stores along Main Street were bustling with customers, especially those serving food and drinks.
JoJo Worley, who was busy serving the hungry Swish crowd at Gals and Hotrods, said, “We’ve had a swift flow of business. It really picked up for the lunch crowd.”
Jill Nystrom, owner of Jill’s Café agreed, commenting, “It’s been fun and business has been steady. We had a good lunch crowd. I love to be out here interacting with the public. We just try to have a good time. I think the Swish is a great community event.”
With an increase of 13 teams over last year’s total, the Swish brought hundreds of visitors to Boundary County. One possible reason for so many teams entering this year’s tournament is that “Mr. Swish” Brett Brown, director of the tournament, took it upon himself to go to the basketball tournament in Kellogg and put entry forms for the BF Swish in the competitors’ team packets. It is a testament to the leadership of the Swish Organizing Committee that the tournament is quickly becoming recognized for how well run, well organized and fun it is.
Commenting on the tournament itself, Brett said, “The team spirit and the camaraderie between teams and team mates is inspirational. There has been no foul play and no incidents whatsoever, which can be attributed to team spirit. Very rarely do you get a crowd of people of this size and have no conflict.”
Showcasing some of Boundary County’s talented youth, the cast from Bonners Ferry Summer Youth Theater’s Grease gave the crowd a sneak peak of the play and entertained the on-lookers with lively singing and dancing of the well-known tunes.
Surveying the large crowd lined along Main Street, Brad Holifield emphasized, “It’s events like these that keep people coming into town and spending their money here. The more teams we get in this tournament, the longer the brackets and the competition will be and the more people will come and spend their money on hotels, meals and gas.”
Each championship game, regardless of age or gender, was an intense competition between athletes determined to take the championship home.
Winning teams of each division are listed below:
Females 9–10:Fierce Four - Laney Search, Kayla Neumann, Annika Bruce, Kate Matlosz
Males 9–10:Basketeers - Ryan Merritt, Caleb Harrington, Caleb Stockton, Andrew Clarkson
Females 11–12:Travelin’ Four - Emma Pluid, Jasmine Hull, Abby Skeen, Kendra Merritt
Males 11–12: The Spokane Package - Dalton Waggy, Shane Pethers, Perry Pupo, Jr, Isaih Wyncoop
Males 19–35, 6+ foot:Pig Farmers - Chase Grilley, Dave Ramsey, Jesse Grilley, Jeremy Grilley
Co-Ed 19–35:Flying Freak Show - Alicia Hedrick, Jacob Parker, Jessica Merz, Luke Riebli
Females 19–35:Spargers - Lacy Hopkins, Becky Lowther, Jennifer Putnam, Tabitha Clark
Males 19–35, under 6 foot:Montana Boys - Jonathan Jarvis, Seth McCollam, Jon Kiefer, Dallas Cazzaza
Males 36+, under 6 foot:Three and a Half Men - Josh Young, Cory Krame, Steven Donn, Jamie Pluid
Males 36+, 6+ foot:Turtley Awesome - Michael Curtis, Brandon Pierce, Jason Longshore, Dan Carlson
Jesse Grilley did the nearly impossible by winning both the Free Throw Contest and the Three Point Contest. He took home $200 for his all his hard work and skill.
After watching the final championship game of the tournament, the match-up in the competitive 19 – 35 year old, six-foot plus, males category between “Pig Farmers” out of Columbia Falls, WA and “All Skinned Up” from Kalispell, MT, Brett emphasized the core of the Swish experience.
“The sportsmanship was what made this final game really cool. They just called the game themselves and we didn’t have any problems. That was so cool,” he said.
True to typical Bonners Ferry form, the dedicated Swish volunteers, donned maroon t-shirts, worked together and had Main Street cleaned up within an hour after the final game. Kudos to those folks who, under Brett’s leadership, made the Swish such an enjoyable experience for so many basketball lovers.
Player Mark Elliston, Jr. summarized the weekend for many of the players.
“Aside from the bracket difficulty, it’s been fantastic,” he said. “Everyone has been great. Friendly sportsmanship was everywhere. I’ll be back next year.”