MISSOULA – Youth basketball teams from around the Northwest region were focused on their own March Madness this weekend in Missoula.

One-hundred forty teams packed whatever basketball arenas were available in the Garden City for the 17th annual Spring Fling tournament, hosted by the Missoula Roundball Club. Hoopers from the second-grade level to eighth grade competed for bragging rights, but also, just because they wanted to play some ball.

Bob Toshoff started this tournament nearly two decades ago when his daughter was in eighth grade, and he isn’t shy about sharing credit with everyone responsible.

“One of the things we talked about this week was the success that the western Montana teams had this year at the state basketball tournaments — the high school tournaments,” Toshoff said. “Most of those kids started competing in travel basketball programs, and have been coming into tournaments in Missoula and all over the state since they were in fifth and sixth grade. So you see the success of the programs because of the kids and the parents putting the time in at the younger level.”

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Teams from Montana, Idaho, Washington competed in this year’s tournament. In the past, teams from Alaska have played, as well. Toshoff said two years ago, 196 teams competed in the Spring Fling, which he was told was the largest tournament west of Cincinnati.

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