Summer games basketball – Pushing the limits in the Kootenays

The Kootenay summer games basketball team is ready for the competition in Surrey after a recent trip to Spokane.

Kari Durban (from Greenwood) passes the ball to Claire Duffy (Cranbrook) as she gets open. Also pictured are Hunter Burton (white - Cranbrook)

Kari Durban (from Greenwood) passes the ball to Claire Duffy (Cranbrook) as she gets open. Also pictured are Hunter Burton (white - Cranbrook)

by Kyle Benning

 

Finding stiff basketball competition in the Kootenays (Zone 1) is a tough job.

Just ask Castlegar’s Kim Matson, head coach of the girls basketball team representing the entire region at the 2012 BC Summer Games in Surrey.

“One of the biggest challenges with basketball in Castlegar is that the level of the game is a little bit slower,” said Matson. “There aren’t really any teams in our area that push us to the next level.”

The former UBC Thunderbird has had a difficult time trying to prepare her team for this summer’s Games. But, on Canada Day, the team entered a basketball camp held by Gonzaga University.

Gonzaga, located in Spokane, Wa., is known for having a strong athletics department, and their women’s basketball team went all the way to the Elite 8 in this year’s NCAA National Championship.

Matson said that her team enjoyed the experience of playing against tougher teams from the U.S. and appreciated the chance to meet players they respected.

“We struggled to win down there, but we improved with each game,” Matson said.

Despite struggling against American teams, Matson believes that exposing her team to this level of competition will help her squad in tournaments like the BC Summer Games.

“By coming down to tournaments, it forces them to improve their game in order to compete,” Matson said.

Along with exposing her team to a higher level of basketball talent, Matson also used the Gonzaga trip as a chance for the girls to build some on-court chemistry.

Matson said the Kootenays region covers a lot of distance, and it isn’t always easy getting her squad together for practices and games.