Hoopfest 2017 began with an intrastate rivalry renewed at the second annual Hoopfest ALUMNI GAME the Friday before all of the 3on3 action began. Former men’s basketball players from Gonzaga University and the University of Washington faced off at the Spokane Convention Center. While kiddos bounced around on inflatables at FANFEST presented by Washington Trust Bank, those of a legal age were able to grab a brew during HOPFEST @ Hoopfest.
The competitiveness of GU and UW entertained the crowd, as did our halftime festivities. A 3-point contest between the schools ended in a win for Justin Dentmon and the Huskies, but not before two overtime rounds against last year’s winner, Steven Gray.
But Gray would not be denied being the “Hero of Halftime.”
“This was the second year I participated in THE ALUMNI GAME. It was a really fun follow up to the first one because we added new opponents, the UW alumni,” Grays says. “It was also especially exciting because I knew at halftime I was going to be shooting this shot.”
Gray had three chances to drain a halfcourt shot to earn $2,000 for a lucky fan as part of The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
Amme Paluch was one of the winners in TBT’s Bracket Challenge in 2016. For her prize, she was able to pick an ALUMNI GAME player to take a half court shot to win her $2,000.
“I wake up early every morning to get my basketball workouts in before my family wakes up,” Gray explains. “For about a week, [halfcourt shots] became a part of my routine. I would shoot until I made five.”
Gray definitely lived up to the infamous phrase, “Practice makes perfect.”
He stepped up for his first attempt and nailed it off the backboard to win Amme the money. Watch the Facebook Live video to see the crowd and players go wild!
“I felt very happy for Amme and it was really fun to see and hear how excited the crowd and my teammates were,” Gray recalls. “I felt a lot of pressure to make the shot because it was for someone else!”
While the crowd and Gray’s teammates erupted with energy when he banked in his first halfcourt shot, Amme’s genuine and grateful surprise was a moment to remember.
“After the game Amme and her family came up to me and thanked me for making the shot. They were all really happy and I told them I was grateful for the opportunity to win them that money. It’s one thing to win money for yourself, but it’s a totally different feeling to win it for someone else, and to see her excitement was priceless.”
Shoutout to Steven Gray for winning Amme Paluch her $2,000 surprise with his halfcourt shot at THE ALUMNI GAME! Don’t forget to watch the Facebook live video of that memorable shot for both Amme and Steven.