BONNERS FERRY — Donkey Basketball came to the Bonners Ferry High School, March 30 at 6 p.m., to serve as a fundraiser for the High School athletic department. Donkey Basketball has been around since the 1930’s, and continues to be a popular fundraising medium that thoroughly amuses the participants and spectators alike. This game proved that point, with a good turnout, and spectators cheering on their teams enthusiastically.
The teams consisted of five players each, with four being mounted on donkeys. The fifth player is the “center” and their duties are to tip the ball at the beginning of the game and to act as a relay person for their team, all of which must be done while keeping one foot inside the the circle at the center of the court. They can only leave the circle to retrieve the ball after the other team scores, then throw the ball to their closest teammate.
The mounted players follow the basic rules of basketball, but with a few twists. They must be on their donkey to shoot the ball, pass the ball, or play defense. They may dismount to retrieve the ball, but they must remain in contact with their donkey, with at least one hand on the reins. This is where it got interesting. The donkeys certainly had the final say as to where they wanted to go, which left many players reaching for a fallen ball as hard as they could, while attached to a donkey that really much prefered to stand still.
There were four teams that competed, with each winner of the first two games competing against each other in the championship round. The first two teams to compete were the Bonners Ferry High School versus the Bonners Ferry Middle School. The Middle School took an early lead with their donkey partners, while the High School struggled, finally making one basket at the very end. The Middle School won 8-2.
Next up was U.S. Customs and Border Protection versus the North Idaho National Guard. The two teams fought hard, keeping the score neck and neck. Even the donkeys seemed to sense the competition with some breaking into trot to help their partner get to the basket faster. With a 10-10 tie score at the end of the game, the CBP made one final basket to pull ahead. The National Guard wasn’t going to go out without a fight and tried for a long shot in the final 15 seconds, but did not make it, leaving CBP the winner at 12-10.
The two winning teams faced off in the championship round. The Middle School proved they and their donkeys had what it took, and beat the CBP with a score of 4-2.
The evening was a success with both players and spectators getting into the game, cheering on their teammates of favorite teams. The announcer’s play-by-plays kept the audience laughing as the herd of donkeys meandered from one end of the court to the other, most of the time completely ignoring their riders attempts to direct them where they wanted to go. Despite this, the break times found the players petting, talking to, and hugging their donkey partners.