By Adam Black
The Ashland Beacon
Balls flew, as competitors watched anxiously at the Elks annual Hoop Shoot Free Throw Competition.
The national competition, which took place at Charles Russell Elementary School Sunday afternoon, had several children from ages of eight to 13 years old competing against one another to take home the first-place trophy and move on to districts and state.
“Over this weekend we reach out to more than 20,000 children throughout the state to compete,” Skip Saunders, local Hoop Shoot Director of Ashland Elks 350. “The purpose of the contest is to support our youth here locally and throughout the nation.”
Children from several schools in the region attended the hoop shoot contest trying their best to make as many free throws into the basket as they could. Many competitors watched as competitor after competitor made shots resulting in several ties throughout the competition.
“It’s amazing to see the talent these kids have and see everyone get involved,” Saunders said. “ It also gives these children something to do and help stay out of somethings they probably shouldn’t be in.”
As competitors took to the court to shoot, the gym became quiet as parents, family and friends watched as their child made a basket keeping track of how many in their heads and on their hands.
“It’s overall a good time and the kids really seem to enjoy it,” Saunders said.
“It’s what we do,” Competitor Christian Evan Williams said. “My friends and I love to play basketball and we thought this would be fun.”
Williams said he heard about the Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest after receiving a flyer from school. After some consideration Williams along with his friends decided to give the contest a try.
“Leading up I practiced in the evening starting four feet away from the rim and count how many baskets I got,” Williams said.
Once the competition was finished, contestants were handed a certificate and awarded a trophy. Winners that placed will move on to districts in Cynthiana, next week and then move on to state in Frankfort, Kentucky, and nationals in Chicago, Illinois.
“I had a really fun time,” Williams said. “I will definitely do it again next year.”
The contest, which is hosted by the Elks, happens every January and encourages youth to participate in the contest each year.
“We want to bring awareness to this and make it even bigger next year,” Saunders said.