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By Ed Moreth 

Wildhorse ShootOut returning to Plains


Plains Day isn’t the only action planned for Saturday, June 5. The Wildhorse Sports Association is once again bringing back the annual Wildhorse ShootOut three-on-three basketball tournament at the Amundson Sports Complex in Plains.

This is the fifth year for the daylong tournament and organizers are expecting numerous teams to participate. The Wildhorse Sports Association is teaming up again with Mission Valley 3 on 3 to conduct the tournament, which in the past has attracted teams from Sanders and Lake Counties, as well as those from as far away as Butte, Libby, Kalispell, and Hamilton, said Erika Lawyer, one of the primary organizers. There was no tournament last year due to COVID, but in 2019, they had 60 teams.

Lawyer said they just opened up registration last week and will be registering teams until the last week of May. The cost to register a team is $120 and can be done by calling Erika Lawyer at (406) 544-8493 or by email at [email protected] or Lawyer said they hope to get 70 teams this year.

There will be coed teams from first to fourth grade and adult, along with boys and girls teams of fifth/sixth grade, seventh/eighth, ninth/tenth, eleventh/twelfth, and men’s and women’s open classes. Games will start around 9 a.m. and each game is 20 minutes long or when a team scores 21 points first. Teams will get to play at least three games, said Lawyer. Medals will be awarded for first through 12th grade. For the adults, Lawyer said they will try to have fun gift certificates, but she added they are thinking about cash awards for the adult divisions this year.

Lawyer said that a lot of the indoor basketball tournaments have been curtailed because of COVID-19 restrictions and kids are wanting to get on the court and outdoor events seem to provide a safer venue. “As youth softball and soccer were able to have seasons around the state last summer and transmission rates in those events seemed to show outdoor activity was fairly safe, we felt like we could move forward this year,” said Lawyer, who added that they will have a hand sanitizer station at the site.

The ladies at the Bean Bug Coffee Shop of Plains will be coordinating special event competitions at the tournament, such as dunk, free throw, three-point, and trick shot contests. Deb Warren of Century 21 Real Estate volunteered to give out water bottles to spectators. There will also be a concession stand set up during the tournament.

All proceeds from this tournament will be used to help maintain the fields at Amundson Sports Complex. Wildhorse Sports Association is a nonprofit organization and any donations are tax deductible. “If you or your business would like to sponsor a team of kids, reach out to me and we will find kids who would like to play, but may not be able to fund the entire $120 entry fee,” said Lawyer.

The Wildhorse ShootOut held the tournament in July for the first two years, but it was not successful, said Lawyer. Organizers decided to schedule the tournament to coincide with the high school alumni games, which was the same weekend as Plains Day. The school won’t be doing the alumni games this year, but Plains High School Principal Kevin Meredith hopes to resume them next year.

Mission Valley used to provide portable hoops, but Wildhorse Sports Association has had enough success with the tournaments to purchase its own, according to Lawyer. The group sells hoop sponsorships to help offset the tournament cost and “add that to the community spirit of the event,” she said. Sponsoring a hoop costs $300 and gets the sponsor’s logo on the backboard and mentioned during the tournament and in the organization’s social media “shout outs,” said Lawyer, who added that there’s also a price break of three years for $500. She added that they still have a few hoops for sponsorship left.

“We try to run a fun event with no drama,” said Lawyer. “Our policy is no tolerance for abusing our referees or other teams physically or verbally. Teams bring their competitive spirit and we love it, but we also want everyone to be on good behavior, too,” she said.


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