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Former Gonzaga great Heather Bowman back on main stage at Hoopfest

Playing on the main stage in front of a Spokane crowd is nothing new to Heather Bowman.

The former Gonzaga forward spent four years inside the Kennel. She lead the Zags to their first Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2010 and helped the team take home three West Coast Conference championships.

But Bowman is also a Hoopfest veteran. She has been around Hoopfest since the days she wore a youth small jersey, playing 3-on-3 basketball in the streets of her hometown.

Bowman made yet another appearance this year at Spokane’s 28th annual Hoopfest. She played alongside three men, Ryan Leong, Stefan Dickason and James Laurence, on the team FarmGirlFit in the co-ed elite division.

“I got some crap from my female friends,” Bowman laughed. “But it worked out. I’m just having fun, I just wanted to play.”

In her four years at Gonzaga (2006-2010), Bowman set the program and conference career scoring record with 2,165 points. She was named to the First Team All-WCC for four straight years.

This year, the former Gonzaga standout displayed her skills again in front of a few hundred fans at Nike Center Court when her four-player, co-ed team took on Dynasty.

Bowman scored eight points to lead her team – what else? – to a 20-9 victory over Dynasty.

Dynasty stayed close in the early minutes and tied the score at 5-5 on a jumper. FarmGirlFit then went on a 10-0 run for a comfortable lead to seal the win.

Bowman put up three shots in the run, which included teammate James Laurence’s pair of 2-point shots from beyond the arc.

FarmGirlFit, named after the local women’s crossfit gym that Bowman helps coach, beat the elite team Orange earlier in the morning. The two wins moved FarmGirlFit up in the winner’s bracket and will play Cigars on Ice (2-0) at court No.6 along the elite court row behind Nike Center Court.

Bowman was not the only familiar face at Nike Center Court. Former Zag Janelle Bekkering also made an appearance on Saturday with several past teammates and Gonzaga women’s head coach Lisa Fortier watching her from the stands.

“They’re like family,” Bekkering said. “You don’t skip a beat … every year you come back (to Spokane) it’s always the same.”

This year is Bekkering’s second attempt for a title at Hoopfest. Two years ago, Bekkering and three other ex-Zags joined together as SLECU ZagBabes and took the women’s elite crown.

This year, Bekkering is chasing a second title with her fellow Canadians Kimberly Lee and Stephanie Price, both former collegiate basketball players.

Bekkering recorded more than 500 rebounds and broke the 1,000-point mark at Gonzaga, making her 19th on the school’s all-time scoring list. After she left Gonzaga in 2011, the 5-foot-11 forward took her game across the pond where she played professionally for several European teams for four years.

Bekkering said she’s glad to be back in the northwest doing what she does best in front of so many fans who remember her big years inside the Kennel.

“I love coming back to Spokane. It’s been five years and I still have a lot of fans and friends who still live here,” she said. “It’s a special place. Basketball is just so big here.”

Bekkering’s team, YYC Canada, will take on Lady Monstars at 9 a.m. on the No. 6 elite court.

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