By Adam Eisenbarth
A few Ponoka athletes dominated the competition in Calgary on the Aug. 22 weekend in the NBA 3 on 3 tournament.
The tournament is held in several cities throughout Canada and two Ponoka high school girls came through with outstanding performances.
Wendy Smith and Laurie Saunders will be leaders for the Ponoka Composite High School basketball team this winter and helped their team of four to win gold in their division in Calgary.
The duo teamed with Hilary Davis, also from Ponoka, and Candice Duckett of Lacombe.
“It was a totally different game. It was way more like street ball,” says Smith.
You may recognize Saunders as a talented young cowgirl but she’s also a gifted basketball player. She’s been playing since Grade 6 and says rodeo and basketball are two different worlds.
“They’re two pretty different things. I mean you have to be athletic (for both sports) but that’s about it.”
Saunders and Smith played together last year on the high school team and they’re hoping they can help turn the team around.
“We didn’t do too well last year, (but) I think we’re going to be better this year,” says Saunders.
Smith agrees and believes it should be an interesting year for the team.
“We’ve got a new coach and some younger girls coming in so I think we’ll get stronger. It would be nice since it’s my last year.”
Smith is hoping things work out for her to go to Calgary again next year. “It all depends. I might be too busy but I really hope to go again it was fun.”
Smith participated on a winning team in the Edmonton tournament as well and got Saunders and a couple others together to compete in Calgary.
Davis goes to school in Edmonton and joined the team to have some fun. She didn’t set any expectations for the team but says Smith was confident in the team.
“I think Wendy was expecting to win because she won it in Edmonton so she knew we could do it.”
All the basketball players in the tournament were given a treat when Philadelphia 76ers star Andre Iguodala was around to show off his skills.
“I follow basketball a little bit but I don’t know all the players but I guess he’s a pretty big deal. It was pretty cool to watch him. He went out on centre court and we all got to see him,” said Smith.
Calgary was the last stop for the tournament. It opened in London, Ont. in June.