The only thing burning hotter than the sun over downtown Hermiston over the weekend was the passion for basketball.
More than 150 teams from across the Pacific Northwest competed from sunrise to sunset in 90-degrees-and-sunny temperatures in the city’s annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament, known as Takin’ It to the Streets. This year marked the 14th year that Hermiston’s Main Street has hosted the competition, where teams compete against one another in 20 different brackets depending on age and skill level, and winners are awarded with assorted athletic gear.
Funds raised over the course of the weekend are then used to support Hermiston High School’s basketball programs.
“We had teams come from all over the region this year,” said tournament organizer Juan Rodriguez. “Some came from as far as Portland, Spokane, and even Boise.”
Rodriguez, also in the midst of his third year as Hermiston High School’s varsity girls head coach, says that basketball is part of the community.
“We keep this tournament going because we love the game,” he said.
And judging by the turnout, he’s right. Main Street was packed day in and day out with players, fans, friends, and family. Ages of the athletes ranged from adults and all the way down to the second grade, and even included players from Hermiston High, hoping to keep their skills in tune during the offseason.
Xavier Rambo, a 2017 Hermiston boys basketball alumnus, has been Takin’ It to the Streets every summer since he was in elementary school.
“It’s tradition,” he said. “You get the same squad together every year and you get to play basketball with your best friends.”
Rambo’s team, Purosho, could be spotted sporting custom grey jerseys with the team’s logo printed on it. Purosho ended up taking home the championship titles for both the 12th Grade Boys and Men’s 6-feet-and-under divisions.
“We’ll be back next year,” he said. “There ain’t no stopping us now.”
Perhaps the most heated of games came in the Men’s Open championship rounds on Sunday.
The division is often comprised of former high school and college athletes, all of whom bring their burning competitive spirits to the courts.
The division title was ultimately claimed by Fox Harvesting after an intense 30-minute game and a close score of 15-13.
“We’ve done this every year since it started,” said Brad Irwin of Fox Harvesting.
Irwin, 27, along with teammates J.J. Ross and Luis and Alex Ortiz, met through eighth grade basketball, and have been playing together ever since. Nowadays, Irwin spends a lot of his time working at Columbia Auto Body & Paint, but still finds the time to get his friends together to shoot some hoops.
“We love this sport, and we can’t get enough,” he said. “We’re going to keep going until we’re 40.”
2nd/3rd Grade Boys: 509 Ballerz 3B
4th Grade Boys: Hermiston Savage
5th Grade Boys: Defenders
6th Grade Boys: Hustle Hoops
7th Grade Boys: The Nicks
8th Grade Boys: Natural Born Ballers
9th Grade Boys: Excelerators
10th/11th Grade Boys: $KEETERZ
12th Grade Boys: Purosho
3rd/4th Grade Girls: Baby Braves
5th Grade Girls: Lower Valley Ladies
6th Grade Girls: Prosser Elite
7th Grade Girls: Fast and Furious
High School Girls: 509 Ballers
Adult Co-Ed: LOB
Men’s 6U Rec #1: Killer 3’s
Men’s 6U Rec #2: Team Loaded
6U Competitive: Purosho
Men’s Rec: ASAP
Men’s Open: Fox Harvesting