By RYAN M. TAYLOR
For the Capital Press
No one would ever accuse me of being much of a sports guy. I don't watch a lot of sports and I haven't played many organized sports, but I'm always game for unorganized sporting events.
I used to play a little hay mow barn basketball when I was younger, and what I lacked in talent, I partially made up for with height. Still I was at a severe disadvantage to guys who actually knew how to play the game.
This March, however, I discovered the equalizer that put me at par with real basketball players. Play the game on donkeys and you even things up a bit. It changes the dynamics of the game completely.
Most folks don't volunteer to play donkey basketball. You're drafted, coerced or shamed into playing the game for the benefit of a laudable local charity.
Local luminaries usually fill the roster of players. Like the song says, everybody's famous in a small town. As a local legislator I was an easy target. I graced the court with the grocer, the mayor of a neighboring town, a representative of the local media and some good-hearted students.
The goal was to pack the stands from far and wide to raise money for our Dollars for Scholars chapter and fund student scholarships. We did. You couldn't have fit many more in the school gymnasium. Parking spots were at a premium all around the school.
It was go time for a little donkey b-ball. It was as close as you get to March Madness in a town of 574 people. We only had four teams so there wasn't a lot of extensive bracketing as fans prognosticated on advancers to the championship round.
I played for the much feared "Ba Donka Donks." It was a riveting game against the "Honky Tonky Donkeys."
After 15 minutes of play, the score was 2 to 0, with the Honky Tonkers leading. It wasn't a high scoring match, but we took a lot of shots at the hoop to keep the crowd engaged.
With just seconds left on the clock, I galloped my cranky donkey up the zone -- maybe it was trot -- OK, it was slow but steady walk to the basket as I banked one in to tie the game.
The crowd went wild! Well, they did clap quite loudly and some leaned ahead in their seats. In the sudden death round, our team emerged victorious to go on to the championship round against "Eeyore's Delights," who'd beat the "Beasts of Burden."
The championship game scored slightly higher than our defensive first round that we won 4 to 2.
The grocer canned a three-pointer, probably because it was easier than persuading the donkey to get any closer to the net. I made a couple of slow motion lay-ups atop my long-eared friend.
We tromped Eeyore's Delights and won glory, admiration and hometown bragging rights.
I'm not sure where my Ba Donka Donks go from here. As the Towner conference champs, I assume we're in a "sweet sixteen" of the donkey kind to get in some more tournament play.
I reckon I'll just wait for the call while I practice shooting hoops from the back of my kid's rocking horse.
The road to the four-legged final four takes determination, and stubbornness.