By Lori Brown
GRAHAMSVILLE March 31, 2006 On Tuesday evening, faculty, alumni, and friends of Tri-Valley Central School came together to entertain the audience by playing a donkey basketball game in the high school gym.
The contest was held as a fundraiser for the T-V track and field teams. The evening was successful, as the track and field program collected approximately $1,750 before expenses.
T-V Athletic Director Joe Iatauro, who also coaches the boys track and field team, has helped bring this event to the school for more than 10 straight years to raise funds for the track and field teams outings. The money raised on Tuesday night will be used to pay for hotel rooms and other expenses when Coaches Joe Iatauro and Missy Iatauro and 32 members of the T-V boys and girls track and field teams travel to Vienna, Va. this weekend for the Northern Virginia Invitational at Oakton High School.
Although it was played on the T-V basketball court in front of a big crowd, this was not your normal everyday basketball game as the donkeys had moods of their own. Some donkeys decided to lie down, stand motionless or gallop in the opposite direction of the baskets.
The players had to stay atop their respective donkeys while shooting hoops during the 32-minute contest. The players had a hard time doing either during those first two quarters, as the halftime score was 14-6.
During halftime, referees Mr. Day and Mr. Rudluff from the Shaw Brothers Donkey Ball Company of Sayre, Pa. gathered the donkeys in the middle of the gymnasium so the many young children in attendance could see them.
The game was terrific, but the highlight of the night was definitely halftime, Joe Iatauro said. The donkeys entertained the young kids by letting them sit, pull and tug on them. It became a petting zoo for the children.
The contest was exciting as it was tied 30-30 at the end of regulation. During the sudden-death overtime period, Megan Diehl scored to give the red team a 32-30 victory over the blue team. She was the games top scorer with a total of 16 points.
The riders for the game included: John Rusin, Lisa MacGhee, Scott Grey, Cathy Bender, Kelly Mansell, Susan LaMonica, Phil Moore, Rebecca Piechuta, Paige Pinto, Tara Berescik, John Calabrese, Brian Tingley, Karen Gorr, Dave Viglione, Rob Worden, Karlton Duck, John Tenbus, Dan McCauliff, Megan Diehl, Bob Eddings, Corey Turner and Maurice Galant.
This is the fourth year that Tenbus has participated in the event.
I had many assists throughout the game, said Tenbus, who was a member of the victorious red team.
The members of his second grade class attended the game and cheered him on.
Tenbus added that he had a very stubborn donkey that wouldnt budge during the first part of the game.
I kept my teammates involved, Rusin said. This is a very unique fundraiser for our community, but it is a fun way to collect money.
Rusin, who coaches the Bears varsity baseball team, has played in the donkey basketball game for five years.
Unlike Rusin and Tenbus, Eddings was a donkey basketball rookie. The contest marked the first time that Eddings, who is the Community Programs Director for the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, had been on a donkey. But he adapted quickly and scored six points.
I was excited at first but then I got nervous, thinking I might fall off the donkey, said Eddings, who noted that at the end of the game his donkey was biting him.