Wildkats to compete in national tourney

Summer league basketball is more than just a recreational activity, it is crucial preparation — at least that's how the Lady Wildkats, an elite traveling basketball squad comprised of Big Spring and other athletes sees it.The team has been competing in invitational tournaments in the previous weeks and holding its own even though most of the teams they play are from larger schools and more populated cities.Coached by Patrick Shellman, the Wildkats have recently been invited to play in the league's Southwest division national championship tournament. According to Shellman, around 300 teams from several surrounding states will compete in the event which will be held in Lubbock on July 6-8.The skill level of the opposition runs deep in these tournaments as well, which can translate to success for the Lady Steers' varsity basketball team.“These tournaments prepare them for the regular season,” Shellman said. “Big Spring is in a tough district. (Abilene Wylie) is the two-time defending state champions. In this league, we play teams that are really talented from top to bottom. You play against teams that are more elite, from different states. It is good preparation.”Big Spring's Ashley Ambris, who will be a junior this year, echoes Shellman on the importance of staying sharp and continually learning the game over the course of the summer.“I think it helps us a lot,” Ambris said. “The teams we play are not in our district, they are above us, so when we face them we get better, we learn to push through.”Ambris believes the Wildkats can compete with the region's best in the upcoming national tourney.“I think we are going to do well,” she explained. “We have experience and we have gotten better as a team.” The Wildkats incur various costs while traveling to other cities to participate in tournaments. Local businesses or residents can sponsor the hoopsters — who are currently trying to raise funds to cover hotel expenses for upcoming events — by calling Shellman at (325)864-2811.