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Rifle Sure Shots take on Harlem Ambassadors

Kim Doose

On Feb. 15, The Rifle Sure Shots, a team of local basketball players, played the Harlem Ambassadors, a spin-off team of the Harlem Globetrotters, in a charity basketball game that benefited the Rifle Rotary Club.

More than 850 people filled the gym at Rifle High School to watch the the dynamic ball-handling, fast feet and flying leaps of a professional basketball team that wowed the home crowd.

However, some Rifle sports fans were not swayed by the Ambassadors’ reputation. “I’m supporting Rifle; I think they’re going to win,” said 12-year-old Chris Kostelecky, while Rifle Sure Shot Brett Morrison was quick to dispel any braggadocio on his part.

“I’ll let you know in an hour. It should be fun if we can get a shot,” he said.

The Sure Shots lost but sank plenty of baskets.

“We had great inside playing from Bob Prendergast and Ryan Mackley and great defense from Chris Lowther and John Miller,” said Rifle Bears football Coach Darrel Gorham, who stepped in to coach the team.

But this wasn’t only about basketball, as Sure Shot Chris Strouse learned. What the Sure Shots needed were some dance lessons.

K.B. Buckner, the 5-4 guard for the Ambassadors, leads the show and is the sassy, self-proclaimed center of attention who likes to dance and tease anyone bigger than herself.

Minutes into the show Buckner dragged Strouse onto center court and tried to teach him to dance.

“We get down like this,” she said as she bumped and gyrated to funky music.

“It’s the unexpectedness. You didn’t know what was next,” said Sure Shot John Sandquist. Like in the fourth quarter when the Ambassadors decided they wanted to play football at center court or when they decided that Sandquist needed lessons in keeping his shorts up and tying his own shoes.

For the Ambassadors, relentless teasing and comedic improvisation is as much a part of the game as the dunks they performed throughout the evening.

Off the court the Ambassadors are role models, and the team prides itself on staying off drugs and either having or actively pursing a college degree.

Also, according to team biographies, most of the players are involved in giving back to their communities through church and youth programs or other community outreaches.

Rifle middle-schooler Quincey Snyder will remember the game. “They are so cool; they gave me inspiration,” she said. This is Buckner’s goal.

“I can show little girls that you can accomplish big things in life,” she said.

Rifle Rotary Club was looking to the future as well.

While both Rotary International and the city of Rifle celebrate their centennial this year, Rotary president Kris Daler, along with the club’s 31 members, decided to host the Ambassadors and use the money to adopt a portion of Centennial Park.

“It will be a legacy for Rotary in our community,” Daler said.

At the autograph session Buckner told the kids how to succeed. “Stay in school, stay off drugs and follow your dreams.”

Rifle Sure Shots, from left, Brett Morrison, of Glenwood, John Sandquist, of Rifle, and Bob Prendergast, of Battlement Mesa.

From left, Brittany and Brooke Neptune, Kaitlyn Kuersten and Christine Neptune.

Rifle Sure Shots, from left, Jamie Allee, of Glenwood, and John Miller and Chris Strouse, of Rifle.


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