The journey back to Anacortes from Spokane is a long one, but one team of teenage athletes made it with their heads held high last week.
A-Town Hoops, a team of four girls from Anacortes, went undefeated at the annual Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament June 29 and 30.
They went 5-0 to earn the top spot in their age group.
The last game went into overtime and came down to a shot by the team’s youngest member, 12-year-old Reese Morgenthaler, who had to shoot in a free-throw to win the game.
She did, and happy tears abounded.
“We all erupted into sobs,” Reese said.
She is joined on the team by her sister, Breann Morgenthaler, 14, Erin Kennedy, 14, and Camryn Kerr, 14.
After their championship victory, the girls were able to peel away the paint that marked the court on the street.
“I have a piece of the tape,” Reese said.
The final game was a 14-12 victory in overtime against a team from Zillah.
The competition was great to play against and put up a good fight, Kerr said.
The girls won their other games 11-6, 10-8 (in overtime), 13-6 and 13-4.
This wasn’t the girls’ first trip to Hoopfest. The team competed last year, bringing home one victory.
This year, they were ready. Each athlete practiced her basketball skills.
“You improve yourself and that helps improve your whole team,” Reese said.
Hoopfest is an annual event that takes over the Spokane streets.
More than 6,000 teams, 3,000 volunteers and 225,000 fans fill the city and 450 temporary courts are set up.
“It’s a really cool environment,” Kerr said. “There are so many teams and good competition.”
The 3-on-3 nature of the tournament built up excitement, Kennedy said. Teams played with different rules than they would in a gym.
“It’s so fast, it’s invigorating,” Kennedy said.
The four Anacortes girls have been playing together since they were young. The two Morgenthalers and Kerr are cousins.
They brought in their friend to be the fourth team member.
Three of the girls will be Anacortes High School freshmen next year and plan to try out for the girls basketball team.
Reese said she will join, too, when she gets to AHS.