Fans young and old had the opportunity to watch the Eastern Kentucky University men's and women's basketball teams during Hoopfest Friday night.
Trick-or-treaters descended on McBrayer Arena before the basketball action to show off their Halloween costumes and fill their bags with candy.
Heather Tudor, with the EKU health services administration, was one of the many people passing out candy. Tudor was impressed by the turnout.
"It's very good," she said. "A lot more than I anticipated."
With other local Halloween events like the Halloween Hoedown cancelled this year due to predicted weather conditions, kids had the chance to trick-or-treat inside the Fred Darling Auxiliary Gym next to McBrayer Arena. Candy that was set aside for the Halloween Hoedown was donated to EKU's Hoopfest.
The EKU cheerleading and dance teams performed for the crowd before the two basketball teams took the court for intrasquad scrimmages.
The 2021-22 basketball teams were introduced to the crowd with a new feature this year, smoke machines.
"It was fun," Brody Endsley, 11, from Richmond said. He noted that the crowd was loud, and he could feel their excitement for the new season.
The EKU women's maroon team defeated the white team, 17-11. Graduate student Bria Bass opened the scrimmage with two three-pointers for the white team, but couldn't slow down the maroon team.
EKU women's basketball head coach Greg Todd urged the crowd to cheer on his team throughout the season and to fill the seats in Alumni Coliseum. Todd is entering his first-year as the head coach of the women's team. Todd, who is embarking on his 30th year as a head coach, is an alum of EKU and previously coached at Morehead State.
The Colonels are led by graduate students Bass, I'Liyah Green and redshirt senior Jayla Johnson. Todd said the senior class had not witnessed a winning season, and his team plans to change that this year.
The fans in attendance also had the chance to meet the eight newcomers to the women's team—Kayra Freeman, Brie Crittendon, Ebony Simionovich, Kalissa Lacy, Ally Collett, Arina Khlopkova, Ariel Kirkwood and Bridgid Fox.
The women's basketball team tips off the 2021-22 season at McBrayer Arena against Transylvania on Nov. 11.
The EKU men's scrimmage featured the maroon team jumping out to a 12-0 lead and holding off a late surge from the white team to take home the victory, 40-36.
EKU men's head coach A.W. Hamilton was pleased with his team's effort and the "unbelievable turnout."
"The excitement around the women's program and our program is through the roof, and I'm so thankful for everybody that came out," Hamilton said. "It blows my mind from where we were when I got here to where we are now, so I'm very appreciative."
Fans like Braxton Edwards, 12, from Richmond enjoyed watching the teams scrimmage during Hoopfest. Both Endsley and Edwards liked the performance of EKU guard Trevin Wade.
"He's short, but he can still dunk," Endsley said about Wade, who is 5 '11.
Edwards believes the team will do good this season and is excited to cheer them on in their first year in the ASUN Conference.
Hamilton said with the lights on and the fans in the arena, he was able to see where his team's conditioning level was at and areas to improve on before the season starts.
"It was really good for our guys," Hamilton said.
Hoopfest brought out many families, including Hamilton's wife and kids.
"They had more fun than anybody. Drinking Sprite and eating candy who doesn't love that," Hamilton said about his kids with a laugh.
The Colonels have been selected to finish second in the ASUN Conference and Hamilton was projected as the ASUN Coach of the Year by Heat Check CBB. Hamilton is set to begin his fourth season as the Colonels' head coach. His teams have broken 18 program records in his first three years on the sidelines.
The men's basketball team will begin its 2021-22 campaign on Nov. 9 at home against Georgetown College.