XENIA — Not many people get a chance to broaden horizons without the use of travel. The Xenia girls basketball team will be part of a lucky few to do so when its get to compete against a group from the Southern Hemisphere right at home.
The Lady Bucs will play a game against a team from Australia on Monday at Phil Anderson Gymnasium. The North-East Bushrangers basketball group is beginning its multi-week tour of the United States and stop number one will be right here in Greene County.
“We get to play an international contest,” Xenia head coach Jessica Threats said with a hint of astonishment. “I’ve gotten to be part of similar things helping with AAU and see how it works, and thought at the high school level this could be even better.”
NE Bushrangers, also known as the Bushies, have players hailing from cities and towns such as Wangaratta, Benalla, Mansfield, and Yarrawonga within the state of Victoria, located in the southeast portion of the country and 130 to 150 miles from Melbourne.
The organization fields boys and girls teams in two divisions at the U14, U16, and U18 levels from the Victorian Junior Basketball League. Their U14 and U16 girls teams were Grand Finals champions in the most recent campaign.
The Aussies have partnered with Showtime Basketball Tours for their US trip and will arrive in the country on Sunday and Xenia will be their first game.
A promotional guide video for the group’s trip shows while it is in America for close to three weeks, team members plan to visit major colleges and cities across the country, as well as potentially meet players from the NBA prior to their games, and are ending their stay in America with a visit to one of the Disney theme parks.
The estimated individual cost for each of their players to make the trip to the US with the group is $6,790, according to a document on the organization’s website providing the payment schedule to Showtime.
The Bushies reached out to local schools to secure games during their travels, according to Threats, and she checked to make sure they were not actually looking for AAU or prep teams such as Athletes in Action after initially getting the email from them. Once she confirmed this was something for her team to participate in, she wanted to do it.
“I joked with the girls originally about I didn’t know if they would be their age or 30-year-old professionals, but that they would remember it no matter what,” she said.
It won’t only be an on-court experience for Xenia with the Aussies. The Lady Bucs plan to spend time with the touring visitors during the day, including having a gift exchange with it being the holiday season, to get an opportunity to interact, exchange, and learn from similarly aged people from a different culture and part of the world.
The area northeast of Melbourne where the Aussie group lives is just under 10,000 miles away from Xenia.
“Our girls probably have never met anyone from another country,” Threats said. “Hopefully we can have a good experience and get another opportunity like this again in the future.”
The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Xenia will play “Advance Australia Fair,” the Australian National Anthem, prior to the start of Monday’s game in tribute to the Bushies and have their national flag on display.
Threats said she hopes the game draws a large crowd in attendance with the same general interest as they will have to see a group from down under visit Xenia.
“This is an experience that the girls will remember forever,” Threats said.