By Matt Phelps
The seventh annual Mercer Island Lid Challenge 3-on-3 basketball tournament was a bit less summer and a lot more artificial lighting this year. The rain that forced the event indoors didn’t dampen the competition or the fun of the “Tip off” event for this year’s Summer Celebration, according to the competitors.
“The spirit of our community came out and my heart is overwhelmed,” said event organizer Bob Burmeister.
The event is usually held at the basketball courts at the Park on the Lid. The wet weather on Friday put the event in doubt, but the community came together just in time, said Burmeister.
Burmeister first tried to get a hold of Mercer Island High School athletic director Craig Olson, who was on vacation with his family. The plan was to use the high school courts, but the Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club offered its facilities for the event instead.
“That is what community is all about,” said Burmeister. “We are really grateful. And this is our biggest ever, by a little bit.”
The loud music in the gymnasium, along with many spectators and officials, made for a fun but hectic environment.
“We are trying to create a spirit of chaos,” said Burmeister. “We just want the kids to have a great time.”
The event again played host to some local celebrities such as Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback coach Rick Neuheisel and the grand marshal of the event Debra Walker-Augurson, a former 3-on-3 world champion.
“I want to let kids know that if you stay positive and work hard you can become a world champion,” said Walker-Augurson, who is a new instructor with the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department. “This is just a positive place for the kids to be.”
The event played host to five different brackets, 23 teams and nearly 100 kids.
The newest addition to the event was the girls 14- and 15-year-old division. The event has had the division in past years but never had enough girls to play games.
The Cougsaders, comprised of Corey Fawcett, Ann Ricci and Jody Buck, took the title by defeating Azn Invazin in a best two-out-of-three final.
The teams split the first two games but the Cougsaders narrowly took the championship game 15-12.
“It was just a lot of fun,” said Fawcett. “We went to Hoopfest and this was just as competitive.”
The largest division by far was the boys 10- and 11-year-old bracket with 10 teams vying for the championship.
Ultimately the Longhorns — Justen Altaras, Parker Scott, Scott Vojik and Matthew Kundert — took the title by winning all five games they played. The championship was a close game, but the Longhorns defeated the Wildcats 11-9.
The games were refereed by court monitors, who are former Mercer Island basketball players.
“I came through the programs on the Island and I just like coming out to support the young kids who have a passion for the sport,” said referee Tyler Besicker. “Basketball is always better outside on a sunny day, but this has a better atmosphere. I just want to see good sportsmanship and a competitive fire.”
The 12- and 13-year-old boys division had half as many teams but was just as competitive. The Holy Rollers — Sloan Aikens, Jack Harrison and Treston Donovan — went 4-1, but eventually won the championship game over Team Domination 15-9. The battles between Domination and the Rollers were epic, as the first meeting went to the Rollers in overtime and the second game went to Domination.
The girls 12- and 13-year-old division saw four teams play a total of six games as Basketball Babes won the championship game over the Queens 15-9. The Babes were comprised of Ashleigh Diamond, Blue Gaston and Hannah Lilly.
“This is a fun thing to do when the season isn’t going,” said Maddy Kleiner of the Whippets.
Only two teams competed in each of the boys and girls 14- and 15-year-old divisions.
In the boys division, the Grundle Munchers took on the Ballers. The Grundle Munchers swept the best-of-three in two games to take the title. Gundle Munchers were made up of John O’Meara, Tom Eddy and Paul Morse.
“It is just fun to compete against friends,” said Grant Sutherland of the Ballers. “I kind of wanted to play outside, but anything works as long as it is basketball.”
10- and 11-year-old boys
12- and 13-year-old boys
Holy Rollers 15,
Team Domination 9
12- and 13-year-old girls
Basketball Babes 15, Queens 9
14- and 15-year-old girls
Azn Invazin 12
14- and 15-year-old boys
Grundle Munchers 15, Ballers 8
Tournament teams for 3-on-3