The annual high school girls basketball tournament is set for Dec. 18-20 at LOHS.

   The big three-oh.

It took a long time to get there — 31 years in this case — but the Nike Interstate Shootout has done it.

The Shootout — one of the largest and longest-running high school girls basketball tournaments in the state — returns from a one-year pandemic-forced hiatus and opens its three-day run Saturday, Dec. 19, at Lake Oswego High School.

This year's tournament, which continues through Monday, Dec. 21, includes 16 teams divided into two eight-team brackets, with all games played at LOHS' two gyms. The tournament is organized and run by LOHS head coach Kaitlin Childs, assistant Ryan Durrett, assistant Spencer Griffin and assistant Lauren Sangster.

Joining the Lakers' varsity team in the Navy bracket will be Aloha, Lincoln, David Douglas, McKay, Glencoe, Newberg and South Albany. The White bracket will include Battleground, Reynolds, Canby, Sprague, McDaniel, Sunset, Putnam and Westview.

Tournament founder Gary Lavender — he coached the Lakers from 1977-2004, reached two big-school state championship games and coached LO's 1993 4A champion — originated the event as the four-team Laker Interstate Shootout in 1991.

As hopeful as he was for his new creation, Lavender admits he had no idea it would last as long as it has.

"Well, no, I didn't," Lavender said. "When we originally started, it was a four-team tournament, and then it grew to eight, and then it grew to 16, and then … we grew to 32.

"And we had two sites — we used Tigard and (former Tigard coach) Ken Johnson ran the Tigard site and I ran the LO site in two divisions. So it really grew over time."

Along the way, the Shootout hosted a bundle of nationally ranked teams and an incredible collection of top-notch players. Included in that group are: Sabrina lonescu, Jordan Reynolds, Taylor Enders, Bendu Yeaney, Cierra Walker, Kailee Johnson, Tyschal Blake, Emma Gibb, Katie McWilliams, Jaisa Nunn, Evina Westbrook, Shalexxus Aaron, Martina McCowan, Jordan Woodvine, Cameron Brink, and Karley and Kourtney Eaton.

After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nike Interstate Shootout is back, and Lavender is hopeful for more great things ahead.

"Kate (Childs) is really doing all she can, and she's the right person for that job," Lavender said. "And Ryan (Durett) is a Laker at heart and he's going to do all he can, so you've got the right people there."

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