Three local up-and-coming basketball stars advanced to the State Hoop Shoot Contest recently after winning their respective age divisions at the Elks District Hoop Shoot held at North High School in Torrance.
The Hoop Shoot Program is a national program free to kids ages 8-13 and begins at the school level where participants attempt to make the most free throws in 25 attempts. The top six winners (three boys and three girls in the respective age divisions) then advance to the Local Hoop Shoot sponsored by that area’s Elks Lodge. The local Lodge is 1378 in Redondo Beach.
This year, Parras Middle School held its school contest and 1,000 students participated, but missed out on the Local Hoop Shoot Contest held at Redondo Union High School.
Although no girls competed this year, Evan Dooley (11, American Martyrs School, Manhattan Beach), Hayden Valadez (9, Center Street School, El Segundo), Ankit Pathak (11, Adams School, Redondo Beach), Benny Gealer (9, Silver Spur, Palos Verdes), Declan Dooley (12, American Martyrs School, Manhattan Beach) and Justin Wallender (11, American Martyrs School, Manhattan Beach) advanced to the local competition.
Gealer connected on 23 of 25 free throws to win the 8-9 division; Pathak nailed 21 of 25 attempts to capture the 10-11 title; and Dooley won the 12-13 division hitting 19 out of 25 shots.
Each boy went on to capture the District championship. Gealer was successful on 23 of 25 attempts; Pathak connected on 21 of 25 and Dooley made 19 of 25.
The trio advanced to the State Championships for the South Central Coast Hoop Shoot Contest for the Southern Section of California at Paramount High School.
Gealer won the California Southern Section Central Coast with 22 of 25, but lost to a kid from Hawaii, who hit 23 of 25. Gealer was the defending Southern Section State Champion.
Pathak hit 17 of 25 but the winner made 20 and Dooley connected on 12 of 25 shots.
The local winners were coached by Lamont Carr and members of the South Bay All-Starz (SBAS), a youth basketball program for 8-to-13-year-old boys and girls that Carr founded in 2008 and is a division of One Shot Deal Basketball Tournament Series.
“Free throw shooting is different from the rest of basketball shooting,” Carr explained. “That is to say, free throw shooting is a ‘game within a game’ much like putting is in golf, and field goal kicking is in football.
“Free throw shooting, like putting, is a closed skill that requires mental toughness (Kobe Bryant/Tiger Woods), a consistent shooting ritual (Steve Nash/Justin Tucker), and the ability to focus and concentrate, like Dr. Tom Amberry, the Guinness world-record holder, who sank 2,750 consecutive free throws without a miss in 1993.”
Carr was the subject of the 2003 Disney film “Full Court Miracle” which was inspired by the University of Virginia basketball star who found the kids of The Philadelphia Hebrew Academy in search of a basketball coach. Carr, sidelined by an injury, agreed to coach the team.
The SBAS have participated in the Elks National Hoop Shoot since 2008-09 and earned Local, District, and State recognition. In past years, some winners find a cause to support and use their free throw talents to raise money for others, like those living with Cystic Fibrosis.
SBAS offers a variety of basketball services and is available for clinics, workshops, speaking engagements, other basketball-related activities, and basketball scholarships. For more information, visit oneshotdeal.us or contact Carr at 310-944-4477 or email@example.com.