Young star works for state honours
DEDICATED Katie Bugden is refusing to rest on her laurels after earning a chance to compete against some of the country's best young basketball stars.
The Richmond Hill junior has been included in the NSW under-18 squad battling for places at the forthcoming national titles.
The St John's Woodlawn College student earned selection in the squad - which contains some of the best young players from the state in that age group - after starring at a recent elite carnival.
Despite her call-up joy, the 15-year-old says the next few weeks will consist of one thing only - training, training and more training.
"I need to work on fitness, shooting and dribbling," she said.
"When my mum told me I was in the squad, I just started screaming. I couldn't believe it.
"I just love playing the sport and to know that my training has been paying off makes you feel good."
Katie earned her place after impressing for one of the NSW Country under-18 sides at a recent national tournament.
Three NSW teams attended the Albury event, which also featured other state and territory representatives.
None of the NSW sides was able to claim honours, with Bugden's team finishing fourth overall.
Despite her side's struggle to make an impact, Katie said she was honoured to have been involved.
"It was very difficult," she said. "There were some pretty talented girls down there.
"It showed me there is a lot to improve in my game (and) it gave me more experience with players that are tougher."
Fellow Lismore basketball players Caralie Wilson (under 16s) and Teagan McWhirter, who joined Bugden in the under 18s, also took part in the event.
Two other Lismore players, Jess Anderson and Tyler Payne, also took part in the under-17 girls and under-18 boys competitions respectively.
Katie, who has only been playing the sport about three years, will now join up with the state squad for a three-day camp at Terrigal.
From the camp, which takes place from February 7-9, a whittled-down squad will be selected to represent NSW at the Nationals later this year.
Katie said she was delighted to be flying the flag for her home city, which is starting to punch above its weight for state representative honours.
"Most of the players (doing well) are from the Central Coast, Newcastle or Illawarra," she said.
"When I say I'm from Lismore, no-one usually knows where that is.
"I usually have to say, 'I'm from near Byron Bay'.
"I'm just really glad to be representing Lismore and doing my best."
Katie thanked coaches and everyone at Lismore Basketball Association for their support.
Association administrator Angela Richardson said Katie's selection was a deserved honour.
"We always knew Katie could do this," she said. "She trains really hard.
"We wish her good luck and all the best."