Molly Nations practiced and practiced, and her effort paid off Saturday during the Craig Elk's Club annual National Hoop Shoot Contest at the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.
Nations made 7 of her 25 attempts from the free-throw line to win the girls' 10- to 11-year-old category. She is hoping to do well at the district contest and move on to the state competition.
The city contest had 22 shooters from ages 8 to 13 with six advancing to the next round of competition, the district contest Feb. 10 at Craig Intermediate School.
In the other girls' divisions, Hannah Walker (8- to 9-year-old) and Chanda Walker (12- to 13-year-old) took home top honors and are advancing to districts.
"I was a little nervous," Hannah said. "I didn't want to do it, but then I did and it was fun."
Hannah made 7 of 25 shots from the free-throw line and Chanda, 17 of 25.
In the boys' 8- to 9-year-old division, Preston Colvin sank 12 shots like an old pro to move onto districts. When asked if it was a surprise to win, Colvin explained that he plays basketball so he wasn't surprised to win.
In the 10- to 11-year-old division, Sam Parker, Tyler Davis and Zander Lichnovsky competed against each other.
"I'm a little nervous," Lichnovsky said. "But I'm having fun."
It was Lichnovsky's first time at the hoop shoot, and it was his goal to make it to the next level, but Parker got in his way.
Parker made nine shots from the line and said that experience was on his side.
"This was my third time (in the hoop shoot)," Parker said.
Lichnovsky finished second, and was happy that he participated.
The 12- to 13-year-old boys division came down to a shoot-off. Brian Davidson and Paul Laliberte were tied at 17 shots each when they went into the best-of-five shoot-off.
Laliberte stepped up and made the first two, knocked the third shot off the back of the rim, and made his fourth and fifth shots.
Davidson missed his first shot off the front of the rim, composed himself and sank the next three. On his final shot Davidson extended and watched as the ball rolled off the side.
Laliberte said he was anxious because it could have gone into another round of shoot-offs had Davidson made one more shot, but the relief and excitement were evident when the last one rolled away.
Dora Watson of the Craig Elks Club said more kids competed at last year's contest. But, no matter the number of youth participating, Watson said, the hoop shoot is a great community event and gets "kids out doing things."
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.