Street ball: Rain-out can't stop die-hard Snoqualmie tourney pick-up players

Pick-up player Chris Weakley of the Elite team Chocolate Won Tons attempts a pass, guarded by Steve Botulinski and Kevin Wallace of the pick-up team Does Second Place Get A Shirt? - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Pick-up player Chris Weakley of the Elite team Chocolate Won Tons attempts a pass, guarded by Steve Botulinski and Kevin Wallace of the pick-up team Does Second Place Get A Shirt?
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Kevin Wallace’s basektball shoes slide a little on the wet pavement of Ridge Street, yet he doesn’t topple. But when he gets a chance to shoot over the opposing pick-up team’s defenders, the ball reflects crazily off the slippery hoop.

“We need a towel for the backboard," said Wallace, who, with fellow die-hard street ball players, made the best of a rainy Saturday, July 16, after weather canceled the fifth annual Snoqualmie Ridge 3 on 3 basketball tournament.

“We’re playing for the love,” said Wallace. With “Does Second Place Get a T-Shirt?” a Snoqualmie-based team made up of friends and co-workers Nate Lindeman, Steve Botulinsky and Brian Hildebrand, Wallace arrived on the Ridge for breakfast, then ended up cooling his heels until early afternoon.

The tournament was delayed for more than three hours before organizers called it off after a morning spent nervously scanning Doppler  forecasts and weather reports.

“It was a disappointing morning,” said tournament founder Jeff Orswell. “But we hold our players’ safety paramount. We want to make sure this special event doesn’t injure anyone.”

The tournament will be back, bigger and better, next year, Orswell added.

Nearly all of the 150 teams showed up to play, but bracket games never began.

Orswell sent everybody home with a logo ball.

“We did the best we could, given what Mother Nature handed us,” he said.

As workers dismantled the street courts, die-hards like Second Place stuck it out to play under overcast skies. “We came out to shoot around, hoping people would be out here,” Wallace said. Sure enough, others had the same idea. Hours after the cancelation, a children's pick-up group had formed, and Snoqualmie teens Zach Robinson and Bryce Abbott, formerly the Snoqualmie Blazers, paired with adults for games or watched others play.

Robinson said the plan was to stay until they got bored, which didn't seem to be happening.

“We play a lot,” said Abbott. The pair of freshmen plan to turn out for the Mount Si program.

In official jerseys, Elite division team Chocolate Won Ton of Redmond—Ha Tran, Chris Weakley and Dominic Nguyen—had come to play, and play they did, besting Second Place in two games to claim unofficial champion shirts.

“We love the game,” said Tran. She and her teammates take the game with a serious passion, and are regulars on the Northwest hoops festival circuit.

Second Place, meanwhile, did pretty well for a team that doesn't actually practice.

“It's nothing,” Botulinsky said of his slip-sliding sneakers. “I'm not moving too fast.”

At the end of the day, Second Place did get a shirt. True, they didn't all match—or fit—but Hildebrand's shirt did say "champion." The question had definitively been answered.

You can learn about the tournament at

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