Sports

Hee-haw! Donkeys are good sports

Eagles and Island County Fire District 3 volunteers play one of four tough quarters of donkey basketball Sunday as the firefighters head for their second victory in two years.However, nobody did really well at staying on the donkeys. - Gayle Saran
Eagles and Island County Fire District 3 volunteers play one of four tough quarters of donkey basketball Sunday as the firefighters head for their second victory in two years.However, nobody did really well at staying on the donkeys.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

South Whidbey sports fans who were waiting for a fast break during an unusual basketball game at South Whidbey High School had a long wait. What they saw was more like a slow amble to the basket.

Eight basketball players riding atop well-trained but stubborn donkeys played a basketball game at the pace of a stroll.

Fortunately, four quarters of slow-motion basketball in the high school's gymnasium did not dampen fan enthusiasm. Uncooperative animals and uncoordinated riders were what got them to the game in the first place, so there was a lot of cheering and encouragement from the bleachers.

The game was the fourth annual South Whidbey Eagles Donkey Basketball fund-raiser. Every year, members of the Eagles club play this strange game against Island County Fire District 3 volunteers to raise money for local organizations. This year's proceeds go to Senior Services and Good Cheer.

The game was an easy second-half win for the firefighters, who beat the Eagles 42-30. At half-time though, with the score at 20-18 in favor of the firefighters, it seemed the game could come down to a shot at the final buzzer -- if any of the donkeys felt like being anywhere near the basket at the final buzzer.

But the firefighters and their four-legged teammates came out of the locker room fired up and ready to play ball, and quickly gapped the Eagles with a combination of solid shooting and brilliant animal husbandry.

Part of the challenge of the game was staying on the donkeys. Several players struggled throughout the game trying to stay astride the rubber-shod, mild-mannered mammals.

After laughing at this sight through he first half, it was no wonder that the game's half-time entertainment consisted of children flocking onto the court to pet the donkeys.

It's perfect entertainment for fund-raising, said Dave Moulton, the Eagles coordinator for South Whidbey's donkey basketball.

"Donkey Basketball is one of the Eagles' largest fund-raisers," he said. "Last year we collected $4,000 for South Whidbey charities."

The totals have not been added up yet this year, but according to Moulton it looks light compared to last year.

"People gave a lot to Sept. 11 charities," he said.

The FD3 win at the game was their second in two years.

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