Players Making Memories
By: Nick Zeller-Singh
Hoop It Up landed in the desert on December 4th for the National Championships at Tempe Marketplace. Although the tournament ended in one day, it created memories that will last a lifetime. Solomon Derege participated in the 18+ recreational division with his friends while competing against nearly 30 other teams. When he first arrived, he enjoyed the setting.
“The atmosphere at Tempe Marketplace was a friendly atmosphere,” Derege said. “You can see people were out there to have fun but they wanted to compete.”
Derege’s teammate, Jordan Tafesse, added the tournament had a friendly atmosphere mixed with perfect warm weather at Tempe Marketplace. When the two first heard about the tournament, they knew they would compete with no hesitation. “I wanted to join the tournament to play with my friends,” Derege said. “I am about to graduate college so I wanted to join to do one last thing together as a group and win.”
Tafesse added how the tournament helped him expand his basketball horizon. “I wanted to join the tournament because I enjoy playing basketball and trying new things,” Tafesse said. “The tournament ended up exceeding my expectations. The competition was good and so was our team.”
Barstool Tempe, Derege and Tafesse’s team, finished 6-2 and third after falling 21-20 in the semi-finals. Although they fell a couple of games short, they loved the streetball community built over the day.
“The community aspect was pretty cool,” Derege said. “I was able to meet a lot of people from different states and people I haven’t seen in the Arizona basketball community.”
Barstool Tempe lost to Bloodline Basketball, a team led by Bobby Lamoureux. Lamoureux traveled from Connecticut to compete in the national tournament. He played in Hoop It Up tournaments since he was a freshman in college. With his wife having business contacts in Phoenix, he decided to take his wife and kids to the tournament for vacation. Once he landed in Arizona, he was hyped to play a new atmosphere.
“It was good vibes,” Lamoureux said. “It was nice weather and the music was playing. I’m from the Northeast and it’s cold out here. So, playing outside in a shirt and back in a Hoop It Up tournament, it was awesome.”
He added the community was one-of-a-kind. “It’s like an instant community, especially with all the games being played in one day,” Lamoureux said. “You get to meet other people you would have never met in your life. Basketball is a bloodline. You meet people playing basketball and it can be a lifeline friendship.”
Since the tournament ended, he has kept in touch with many of the teams he faced against across the country. In addition, he keeps in touch with the teammates he met for the first time when he landed in the desert. He is able to relive the moments with his teammates and family for a lifetime.
“The best moment was the journey,” Lamoureux. “The two guys I played with were awesome. I had just met them right off the plane. The highest moments were the times I threw alley-oops up to Tavion. The low moment was obviously losing in the championship.”
Despite falling all three guys falling just short of the title, they all agreed they would compete once again.
“I am definitely going to compete again,” Lamoureux said. “I’m already looking ahead on the calendar in January in Florida.”