GALLIPOLIS — The Hoop Project will once again be bouncing into action this weekend in Gallipolis City Park and is anticipated to draw a crowd of well over 1,000 individuals from around the region.
According to event organizer Robbie Pugh, everything starts this Saturday morning with team registration at 7 a.m., a team captains meeting at 8 a.m. and tip-off at 9 a.m. Everything is expected to wrap up at the latest around 7 p.m. Sunday evening.
“This year, we have 165 teams and there are six people per team,” said Pugh. “The first year we had the tournament, we had 75 teams. The second year we had 85 teams and this year we have 165. This is the fourth year we’re having the tournament.”
Every team is guaranteed to have three games and divisions exist for both men and women based on age and skill level. Children 8 and younger will have a division, as well as those 9 to 10, 11 to 12, 13 to 14, 15 to 16 and 17 to 18. A division will exist for men and women 19 to 35 and 36 and older. The men’s and women’s open are available to higher level players. The game is considered full court with teams consisting of three players on court at a time. Courts number 13 in all. Games will take place on First Avenue and Court Street.
Along with the tournament, inflatables will be set up in Gallipolis City Park for families to enjoy, as well as other entertainment. Medical staff will be located on site. The tournament also features a dunk contest Saturday at 9 p.m. which boasts a $1,000 cash prize.
“The guy that’s won the dunk contest the last two years is actually a Harlem Globetrotter right now,” Pugh said. “His name is Justin Coleman and he went to Huntington Prep in West Virginia.”
Pugh said he has it confirmed that Coleman is expected to return to the competition this weekend.
The Hoop Project is put on by the Downtown Revitalization Project. In previous years, it was not intended to turn a profit but broke even to continue providing for the tournament’s future and attracting business to the downtown Gallipolis area. Pugh says this year the event is hoping to turn a small amount of profit to fund ongoing DRP projects.
“We’re hoping to provide recreation for the kids in the community,” Pugh said. “Also, one of the main reasons we do it is to get foot traffic to our downtown businesses, our restaurants. We really preach go to Remo’s, go to The Colony Club, go to Courtside, go to Larobi’s, go to Pip and Hud’s. We encourage everyone to enjoy the downtown.”
The Hoop Project was founded by Pugh and his co-chair Meagan Barnes.
“I love basketball and we were talking about something we could do to get involved in the community,” Pugh said. “When we said we wanted to do it, we called around to see if there was local equipment that we could use. Everyone told us, ‘You can’t do a basketball tournament in Gallipolis. No one will show up.’ That’s how it started. The first year we had 75 (teams). We were overwhelmed and it rained all that weekend. Now we’re looking at 165 teams this year.”
Pugh said the Gus Macker three-on-three basketball tournament was not in Chillicothe this year and that he feels tournaments like it are fading.
“As basketball tournaments are dying throughout the country, we’re setting record numbers,” Pugh said. “We’ve got teams coming from Lexington, Ky. We’ve got another coming from Nashville, Tenn., and they’ve been with us the last two years. We’ve got teams coming from Marietta and Hillsboro and West Virginia — all over the place.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.