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Australians play here

Down Under team takes on Okanogan

— Okanogan High School’s girls and boys basketball teams got some international competition and new friends Wednesday night.

The Bulldogs took on the Kempsey Australia Spirit, which is touring Washington and Oregon before flying home Dec. 20.

“It was a good experience to play an international team,” Okanogan girls coach Bryan Boesel said. “Everybody had fun. It’s better than practicing.”

“I’ve done this several times,” Okanogan boys coach Mike Carlquist said of playing international teams. “They were young, inexperienced, but a nice group of kids.”

The Okanogan girls won 78-16 and the boys won 97-30 over the Spirit, which may have been suffering some jet lag in the first stop of its tour.

“We flew in last night,” tour manager Evelyn Jacobs said. “The players got eight hours of sleep in the two days in transit.”

The trip was especially poignant for Christopher Coleman, who is lucky to even be with his teammates.

Coleman, 17, was delivering pizza to earn money for the trip, when a driver pulled in front of him two weeks ago. An experienced motorbike rider, Coleman did a tuck and roll to survive. Coleman, who has just gotten his driver’s license, still ended up on the front of the vehicle. His helmet also helped keep injuries down.

“I was wanting to play,” Coleman said while displaying a left hand still deeply bruised on the palm. “I am the oldest player here. I raised money for three years to go.”

The Spirit is from Kempsey in New South Wales, which has a population of 7.2 million, is approximately the size of Washington, Oregon and Montana in size.

Kempsey has a population of about 8,000 and is located 152 miles north of Sydney.

The high school’s combined attendance in the Top 3 grades is about 300, which would make it a large class 1A school here.

“Most of the girls play netball,” Jacobs said. “Netball has a huge following.”

Netball, which comes from the early development of basketball, is very popular throughout the Commonwealth nations. Australian women are the leaders in the sport, winning 10 of the last 13 World Championships.

There is an effort to possibly include the sport in the Olympic Games, which recognized the sport in 1995.

The Spirit teams were composed of players in the sixth- through 12th-grades.

Basketball rules are similar in both countries. In Australia if a foul is committed in a circle near the hoop there are automatic free throws. The shot clock is 24 seconds compared to 30 in the U.S.

Kempsey also plays in Pendleton and Portland, Ore., then plays teams in Battle Ground, Shoreline and Bremerton before returning home Dec. 20.

The Okanogan girls, who hit six 3-pointers, were led by Jordyn Boesel with 17 points and Jill Townsend with 15 points.

Tia Paterson-Dunn led Kempsey with 7 points.

Okanogan played its varsity in the first quarter for a 24-9 lead. The junior varsity played the rest of the game.

Colton Crowson led the Okanogan boys team with 17 points that included three 3-pointers. Ben Cate, Mason Guerrette and Jim Townsend each chipped in 14 points.

Cameron Knowles scored 10 points for Kempsey.

Girls

Kempsey (16) – Welsh, Cubillo 2, Walsh 5, Duke-Holten, Taylor 2, Paterson-Dunn 7, Ralph 0, Smith 0, Bowden 0, Witchard 0.

Okanogan (78) – Jones 4, Moses 6, A. Romero 3, Moore 10, Boesel 17, Egbert 10, Diefenbach 4, J. Romero 8, Townsend 15, Baum 2.

Boys

Kempsey (30)– Buckley 2, Smith 6, Cordell-Packer 8, J. Coleman 1, B. Coleman 3, Knowles 10, Wauchop 0, Minnican 0, Whitby 0.

Okanogan (97) – Perez 0, Cate 14, Rivas 8, Morris 0, Guerrette 14, Pruitt 10, Crowson 17, Townsend 14, Timentwa 3, Colbert 2, Staggs 12, VanderWeide 2.

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