At 4A state basketball tournament in Tacoma Dome, it’s just FAN-tastic

February 28, 2008 

High school hoopaholics show their stuff The games at the state high school basketball tournament are about more than just players, coaches and referees.

Thousands of young, energetic fans rain cheers upon the two courts set up at the Tacoma Dome. Others are content to sit in a plastic seat all day and watch game after game after game. Concession-stand workers serve up cheese fries while cheerleaders try to pump up the crowd.

News Tribune staff writer Scott Fontaine posted behind-the-scene vignettes Wednesday from the first day of the Class 4A tournament on his blog, Word on the Street. Here are some excerpts.

THE VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECKS

Posted at 10:44 a.m. Wednesday

In the upper decks of the Tacoma Dome, far above the face-painted students chanting unoriginal cheers and teachers relaxing on an unexpected day off, the hard-core prep basketball fans sit.

“I’ve been doing this since 1966,” Gene Bonner said. The West Seattle native leaned back in his chair almost directly in front of the heavy black curtain that separates the two courts. His head swayed slightly between the two games, and he used binoculars dangling from his neck when the action got intense.

About 30 spectators spread around the second layer of stands before the 9 a.m. tip-off of Wednesday’s first games in the Class 4A state tournament: Decatur boys vs. Snohomish and Lake Stevens girls vs. Mount Tahoma.

The ability to watch both games simultaneously was a draw for the group of mostly middle-aged men. So was the laid-back atmosphere. Blue-and-orange-clad Decatur students stood on their seats and clogged the aisles to try to get a better view in the lower stands. In the upper decks, people were able to stretch their legs over the chairs in front of them and read the sports section of the newspaper.

Snohomish’s Dave Manzanares and Mount Vernon’s Dick Snow said they’ve been watching the state basketball tournament for more than 20 years. The two also like to banter about the games and don’t want to disturb others sitting near them.

“We just like a little room to talk,” Manzanares said, “and this provides a little privacy.”

ROLLING BACK PRICES, TASTE

Posted at 11:47 a.m. Wednesday

Give credit to Chase Anderson. In a sea of goofily dressed fans, the junior from Shadle Park topped them all.

Before he left Spokane for Tacoma on Tuesday, he and some friends wanted to find an outfit that would stand out. They spent about $20 at a Wal-Mart and came up with an interesting look.

Start with the head. He was wearing an electric-orange wig underneath a green-plaid head scarf tucked under a Shadle Park hat.

He also used the same plaid material to cut a sash that hangs over his inflatable fat suit, and wore a black-and-white shirt and green-plaid boxers.

He wore red-plaid socks underneath calf-high white ones, and white hospital covers over his shoes.

He bounced around the stands, screamed and played air guitar while the Highlanders cruised to a first-round victory.

“I just wanted to do something that could top all the other things I usually wear,” the 16-year-old Anderson said. “I pretty much just picked random stuff and tried to make the funniest outfit I could find.”

It sounds as though he has a track record of sporting wacky clothes. Two of his favorite outfits he wears to games are a 1980s-style, mustard-yellow basketball uniform (complete with knee-high socks and way-too-high shorts) and a wrestling singlet.

LONG DAY FOR BELLARMINE KIDS

Posted at 12:37 p.m. Wednesday

It’s a long day for Matt Baer and Jon Wu. The two Bellarmine Prep freshmen arrived at the Tacoma Dome shortly before noon to play in the pep band during the girls team’s opening-round game against Snohomish.

But that was just the start of their jam-packed schedule.

Even though Bellarmine Prep students were dismissed at 11 a.m. to root on their classmates, the two had to head back to the Jesuit school’s campus for track and field practice. (They both run the 1,600- and 3,200-meter events.)

Wednesday evening, they were scheduled to be back at the Tacoma Dome at 6 p.m., an hour before the Bellarmine boys played Richland.

“It’s going to be busy,” Baer said, “but it’s going to be worth it.”

The band practices all year, said freshman Jamarion Mayo, and this is one of the biggest crowds in front of which they’ll play all year.

“I like it because we get to cheer the teams on,” said Mayo, who plays the snare drum. “We usually don’t play two games in one day, but I’m up for it.”

THE SUIT IS THE TALK OF THE TOURNEY

Posted at 1:04 p.m. Wednesday

Federal Way coach Jerome Collins’ suits are often the talk of the state tournaments. The man knows how to dress. On Wednesday morning he was sporting a loose-fitting lavender jacket with white accents, a lavender vest, a purple tie and lavender pants.

I asked students from Federal Way and first-round opponent Franklin what they thought about Wednesday’s selection. Here’s what some had to say.

 • Franklin junior Nick Caldwell: “It’s nice. It’s colorful. It brings out the color in his skin. It’s flashy for a high school game, yeah, but everybody’s themselves.”

 • Federal Way senior David Park: “He’s fresh. Fresh every time. He looks a bit like a Froot Loops box or Willy Wonka, but I like it.”

 • Franklin junior Samrawit Bekele: “I think it’s ugly. It’s not very manly. He should wear something more manly.”

 • Federal Way senior Ufa Tauile: “He’s fitted. It looks fresh. I don’t know what else to say except that it looks good on him.”

 • Franklin sophomore Sami Abera: “I think he shouldn’t have worn the suit. He could’ve bought a better suit. It ain’t Easter yet.”

Scott Fontaine: 253-320-4758

scott.fontaine@thenewstribune.com

blogs.thenewstribune.com/street

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