The Saratoga Sun -

Hooves and Hoops

Donkey basketball proves a kick

 

The Laramie Plains Properties team (black shirts) brings the ball downcourt against the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department team's stout defense in the second half of the first game of Donkey Basketball Saturday evening.

Over the weekend at the Platte Valley Community Center in Saratoga, family fun ambled onto the Kirsten Campbell Court very slowly. The place also smelled like a stable.

Donkey basketball-the sport European Monarchs would have played if only they had the good sense to think of it rather than polo-combines the athleticism of basketball and the raw power of thundering donkey hooves clad in rubber shoes to prevent the gym surface from being marred. And, it returned to Saratoga this weekend, all part of a fundraiser for improvements at the PVCC gym.

Dozens of residents representing four teams, the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department, the Lion's Club, Barkhurst Collision and Laramie Plains Properties were along for the ride on the backs of the finely trained and conditioned athletes who had traveled all the way from Washington to bring the spectacle to Valley residents.

The athletes, themselves representing two distinct teams-team Light-colored donkey and team Darker-colored donkey-were uncharacteristically laconic for professional athletes who often never miss an opportunity to talk to the media.

In fact, ne'er was a bray heard all day, a testament to the focus and poise of the professional jackasses whose goal was one thing only: to win.

ROUND 1

The first game in the series had the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department aided by team Light Donkey facing off against Laramie Plains Property who were backed by team Darker-colored Donkey.

The amateur human athletes took some time getting used to working with the consummate professionals on the Light squad, but as the two species began working together, a symbiosis began to take shape, and the Saratoga firefighters jumped out to an early 4-0 lead.

Laramie Plains, likewise, was also learning how to cope with the power and precision on display by the pros on team Darker, and for them the learning curve was steeper. Laramie Plains didn't get on the board until well into the first period of play. Even then, their efforts were continually dogged by the firefighters and team Light.

The crowd, both young and old, seemed to tilt decisively in favor of the hometown heroes on the fire department. That didn't stop Laramie Plains and team Darker from eventually finding a strong confederation of their own.

By the end of the first half, Laramie Plains had closed the scoring gap, bringing the score to 6-12.

In the second half, the competitive spirit and drive to win began to manifest itself with Laramie Plains and team Darker. The melding of man and beast was so completely thorough that the game began to resemble the Centauromachy, when the half-man, half equines battled for supremacy against the Lapiths.

The Laramie Plains team held the firefighters to only four points during the second half, and scored nine themselves. Ultimately however, Laramie Plains' and team Darker's rally wasn't enough, and the firefighters took the match by one point.

ROUND 2

The second bout of the night put the Saratoga Lion's Club and team Darker against Barkhurst Collision in their chartreuse "Runnin' with the Donkeys" garb and the athletes of team Light, whose spirits seemed buoyed by their earlier win.

The esprit-de-corps of team Light translated into a runaway first half for the team and their human passengers. Barkhurst and team Light came out the gate with panache. They scored early, and they scored often.

By the end of the first half, it looked as though the Lions and team Darker were out of the game completely. The strange feline-and-equine chimeras did not seem to the have the chemistry needed to overcome the alliance forged between Barkhurst and team Light.

The Lions and team Darker did not simply roll over in the second half however. Rather, the team came out strong with a new vigor. Will Faust of the Lions' Club stood out in the second half by harnessing the superior speed of the Dark Donkey, who truly came alive in the second half with his fleet-hooved displays of agility and swiftness.

Faust and Dark Donkey used their advantage to move down the court quickly, allowing them to set up teammates for shots on-basket.

Not only did the Lion's Club and team Darker rally, they held Barkhurst and team Light to only three points while netting six themselves. Even though the Lions and team Darker ultimately fell, they did so by a very respectable 9-6 margin, a far cry from the score at halftime.

ROUND 3

The end of round two marked the onset of the final championship game of the evening. The air was thick with anticipation. Team Light and team Darker both had wins under their bridles and were ready to claim final victory.

Likewise, their human payloads also had imbibed from the cup of victory and were ready to requisition the glory and bragging rights that come with vanquishing foes on the court of sport.

Barkhurst stayed with team Light, while team Darker, still celebrating its earlier win in round two, was saddled with members of the Saratoga Volunteer Fire Department. The firefighters, who were led to victory in round one by team Light would now have to forge a new alliance with team Darker.

Team Darker and the firefighters scored right away, and translated their newfound rapport into a dominating first half. At the end of the first, the firefighters and Darker were up 4-0 and rolled into the second half looking for a shutout of team Barkhurst and team Light.

Barkhurst and team Light wouldn't accept a shutout though, and they roared into the second half of the championship game ready to take the action to the firefighters and team Darker's end of the court. Unfortunately, however, their efforts fell short.

Team Firefighter/Darker had the momentum, and despite Barkhurst/Light's valiant efforts to come back, that momentum carried the firefighters to a 10-2 win in the championship round.

As congratulations were passed among human players, the professional athletes quietly filed out of the gym. Winners and losers alike carried themselves with an air of dignity and humility usually possessed by only the extraordinarily expert.

The two teams, Light Donkey and Darker Donkey would share the same trailer on the ride home to Washington. Both would enjoy a good portion of hay to assuage the pangs of hunger that come after a spirited game of basketball. Together they would ride west, chasing the setting sun.

On the way out, as human competitors and spectators alike noted how the smell that wafted throughout the gym had seemed to seep into their pores, none seemed to realize the simple truth: That wasn't the smell of a trailer full of donkeys, it was the smell of victory.

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