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A new crop of shooting stars; Annual Elks youth basketball event draws 55 kids to Narragansett High.

Byline: Jay Gearan

TEMPLETON - The Putnam Gymnasium at Narragansett Regional High School was packed with eager youngsters last Saturday morning, boys and girls ready to try their talent and their luck in the annual Elks Hoop Shoot Contest, sponsored by the Gardner Lodge of Elks.

"We had 55 kids participate, and I feel it was a great success," said contest director Bob Cox, who succeeded the late Bob Girouard as director this year.

Before the competition got under way, Mr. Cox, all the participants and spectators observed a moment of silence for Mr. Girouard, who died last July. "Bob ran the foul shooting contest for 15 years, and without him, we probably wouldn't be here today," Mr. Cox told the crowd.

Mr. Cox was assisted by more than 30 members of the Elks lodge, serving at the registration desk, line judges, rebounders, ball retrievers, counters and scorers.

"We gave T-shirts to all the kids who entered the contest," said Mr. Cox, who also noted that the local winners also received trophies. "The entire contest is free for the kids," he added.

Open to boys and girls, ages 8 to 13, the contest separated contestants into three age categories, 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13.

In the 12-13 girls division, seventh-grader Amanda Stewart of Templeton concentrated on her opening 10 shots and swished half of them

Explaining her technique, she said, "I just take a deep breath, try not to think of anything else and shoot. I just go for it." The daughter of Chris and Cindy Stewart, she added, "I love basketball. I've been playing ever since I was little."

The rules, the same used throughout the country at each Elks foul shooting event, were reviewed for the contestants before the actual foul shooting began. After up to five warm-up shots, contestants shot 10 shots, rested while others shot and returned for 15 more shots for a total of 25. Contestants could not bounce the ball more than four times between shots, and had to stay behind the foul line until the basketball touched the hoop, backboard or net. Ties were broken by taking five additional shots in the same shooting order as the regular contest.

All 8- and 9-year-old contestants began the contest shooting from four feet in front of the regulation foul line.

The following winners, first and second place shooters, at the local level will now advance to the West-Central District event at Greenfield High School on Jan. 27. In the boys' 8-9 year-old division. Chandler Parker and Devin Merritt advanced. In the 10-11 age division, Troy Yacyshyn and Christopher Langlais won. In the 12-13 age division, Trevor Richard and Scott Favreau moved on.

In the girls' 8-9 year-old division, the winners were Kelsey Dilling and Rachael Neuhaus. In the 10-11 division, Shayna Yacyshyn and Melissa Goss won, and in the 12-13 division, Jonel Thebeau and Courtney Kelly.

The 36th annual Elks National Hoop Shoot Finals will be held in April 26, 2008, at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. The age-group winners, from a pool of 72 contestants who make it to the finals, each receive a trophy, and their names are inscribed at the Hall of Fame. The odds of being one of the 72 from across the country last year were 1 out of 45,169.

Last year's winners included 9-year-old Aaron Smith from Morristown, Tenn., who made 23 of 25 foul shots and then won in a playoff, sinking four out of five. Also, 9-year-old Maggie Goltz of Falls City, Neb., made an amazing 24 of 25 shots to win her division.



CUTLINE: Amanda Stewart of Templeton concentrates on her foul shooting.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 13, 2007
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