For the 14th year in a row, Hermiston proved that basketball brings people together.
Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, more than 145 teams from around the region flocked to downtown Hermiston to participate in the annual Takin’ it to the Streets 3-on-3 tournament. Teams, comprised of athletes anywhere from the fifth grade and upward, braved the sizzling summer heat to showcase their passion for the sport.
“Our community has always been supportive of us,” organizer Juan Rodriguez said. “You can see all of our local sponsors on the backboards. We couldn’t have done this without them.”
Alongside the various teams were groups of volunteers — many of whom were members of Hermiston High School’s boys and girls varsity basketball programs. Money raised from the weekend-long contest helped support their upcoming seasons.
“They’re also doing it because they want to promote basketball,” Rodriguez added.
Although players from Washington, Idaho, and central Oregon took to Main Street to flaunt their basketball skills, several local teams made appearances to represent their hometowns.
Among those teams was Purosho, led by Blue Mountain Community College’s own Dylan Grogan, who, with the help of teammates Deon Davis, Jerry Ramirez and Quinton Raynor, opened Saturday morning with a 20-14 victory against Drive Home Safe on the center court’s red Les Schwab mat.
Grogan, 20, noted the difference between summer basketball and the hours he’s put in on the Timberwolves’ court in Pendleton.
“I love it,” Grogan said of Takin’ it to the Streets. “It’s less structured. You’re free to do what you want, and you get to play basketball with your best friends.”
Grogan’s team was born out of a former rivalry. He met Ramirez in a previous Takin’ it to the Streets tournament years ago, where they played on opposing teams. This year was their first on the same side.
“That’s how we got to know each other,” Grogan said. “This is a great group of guys.”
A premier player on the Timberwolves’ roster, Grogan, a Stanfield native, played his first game in the tournament when he was in third grade. He’s been coming back ever since.
Fans, family, and friends filled the bleachers to watch Purosho compete.
After his team’s first win, Purosho still had two more games left to play on Saturday alone. The team withstood the heat and ended up winning championships in the Men’s Rec and Men’s Open divisions.
Purosho wasn’t the only team who have made Takin’ it to the Streets an annual tradition — Tyler Winklebleck, Tyson Naylor, Carson Lloyd and Juan Coria have competed in the tournament together since they were in high school.
Now in their 20s, their team, appropriately named the Three Throws, cruised to a 20-7 win over Cokini to open the tournament on Saturday.
“We just coexist,” said Winklebleck, 21. “We love the game. We have great chemistry together.”
The Three Throws lost their second game of the day to Hammer Down in a 20-18 heartbreaker, but blew out the No Schnacks 20-9 to end the day. On Sunday, Hammer Down would return to defeat them again, keeping them from playing for the championship, which would eventually go to the Killer Threes.
Winners of each division were awarded “Champion” T-shirts, and winners in the Men’s Open and 6 Feet and Under categories also received Nike backpacks.