JENKINS TWP. — Local youths with steady hands, steely concentration and good aim competed Sunday at the annual Basketball Free-throw Competition at the Oblates of St. Joseph gymnasium.
Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Pittston Council 372, a line-up of competitors age 9 to 14 tried their best to sink as many free-throws as they could out of 15 tries.
Don Mac Rae, chancellor from the Pittston council, said the competition has been an annual event for more than 20 years. Winners from Sunday’s competition will progress to a regional competition and may even get to compete on a national level.
The local free-throw competition is run in conjunction with similar ones held by Knight’s councils across United States, he said.
Eventually, national winners will be awarded a championship trophy commissioned by the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. Last year, more than 120,000 “sharpshooters” competed in 3,600 local competitions nationwide, according to the Knights of Columbus organization announcement.
Each competitor gets 20 throws, the first five being warm-ups, Mac Rae said. Then they are scored on how many they hit out of 15. Girls and boys competed broken down by age groups.
Four free-throwers qualified to move on to regional competition that will be held on Feb. 23 at the Bethlehem Catholic High School Gymnasium that begins at 1 p.m.
The qualifying winners were Chasee Knouse of Hanover Township who hit eight of 15 throws to take the 10-year-old girls top spot; Anthony Thomas of Pittston, who sank 11 to top the 10-year-old boys; Brianna Mac Rae of Duryea sank 11 to win for the 12-year-old girls, and Todd Phillips of Dallas sank 10 of 15 to win the 12-year-old boys.
Brianna Mac Rae said the key to winning was “not thinking about missing when on the line.”
“I just stand still and shoot,” she said, adding she felt she did “pretty good.”
Dan Mac Rae said the competition is open to anyone who wishes to participate. “Most of these kids aren’t even basketball players,” he said, “but they can be very poised when it’s their time to throw.”
All of the participants were given a medallion or certificate for being there Mac Rae said.
If any local competitors earn the the ability to compete nationally, local council representatives will be there to support them, he said.