Winning a Hoopfest Championship is rare. Winning a Hoopfest Championship four times is almost unheard of. The Lady Cubs, a group of tenacious 16-year-olds, have managed to do just that. Kalle Crouch, Katie Hawkins, Lacie Hull and Lexie Hull began their winning streak in 2008, when they were just in 3rd grade, and have found themselves on the winning court every year up until 2013.
The chemistry that led them to their success started cooking when they were 8 years old.
“When we were younger we would have cooking contests,” says Hawkins. “[We] put together funny skits for our families and would have water gun fights–sometimes we still do!”
Eight years later, the Lady Cubs now find themselves as sophomores roaming the halls of Central Valley High School.
“Now we run track together, have fun during the summer on Lake Coeur d’Alene and just hang out at each other’s houses. Lacie and Lexie’s grandma also hosts a Christmas party and gift exchange every year, so that’s another fun tradition that we all look forward to.”
While the girls have fun in the off-season, they all look forward to yet another activity they can do together: Hoopfest.
“Leading up to Hoopfest, I was really excited to just play and be in the warm weather. I never was too nervous because it was just fun to be able to play,” says Crouch.
Unanimously, the girls attribute their successes to their longtime friendship and chemistry created through Spokane AAU.
“I believe the key to our success is our friendship. We have all been such close friends for such a long time. We have really good chemistry together since we have been playing together for so long,” says Crouch.
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.
2011 marked the first year the Lady Cubs ran into a problem.
“That year was the first year we ever lost a game. We were coming back through the loser’s bracket and really needed to win. It was so in the moment and such an intense and fun game. When Kalle made that [game winning] shot it was, at the time, one of the most exciting things that had happened to our team,” says Lacie.
“Winning that championship seemed like an even bigger accomplishment because we had to work so much harder,” recalls Lexie.
While many of the girls think back to Kalle’s game winning shot as their favorite Hoopfest memory, Hawkins has another memory in mind.
“Playing against girls from other places was so fun, especially as we continued to see some of the same people year after year. There was a team from Mercer Island that we saw and played against during several Hoopfests and it was pretty neat to see familiar faces.”
Whether it’s seeing familiar faces or hitting game winning shots, each Lady Cub has a special Hoopfest memory that resonates with them.
“It is so fun to play competitive basketball in the streets of your town knowing that there are so many people there in the same place. It’s cool winning and knowing that it is the largest 3-on-3 tournament in the world,” comments Crouch.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran like the Lady Cubs, a first-timer or anything in between, basketball is what brings us together.
“I like basketball because it’s something that I’ve grown up playing with my best friends. I have a special connection to the sport and love playing it,” says Lacie.