Craig sixth-grader places third at Elks hoop-shoot


Paul Laliberte can sleep in now.

The 12-year-old Craig Middle School sixth-grader brought home a third-place trophy from the Elk's free-throw contest, or "Hoop Shoot," on Saturday in Denver.

After winning the city, district and state competitions, and being the first Craig representative at the regional level, Laliberte's successful run ended Saturday at Rock Canyon High School in Highlands Ranch.

He sank 19-of-25 among 12- and 13-year-olds from a four-state region of Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.

The order of the shooters was determined by the distance traveled to Denver, making Paul the No. 1 seed.

The soft-spoken pre-teen sank eight of his first 10 shots before nervously watching his competitors.

In the second round, Laliberte made 11-of-15 and edged out the Wyoming representative for a third-place overall finish.

The winner, who advanced to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., was from Kansas and made 23-of-25.

"I don't know what happened," Laliberte said. "I got nervous and wasn't ready. We had a little warm-up, before we shot and that was all."

Rounding out the top-four, the Nebraska representative finished second and the Wyoming shooter came in fourth.

In addition to his mom, Martha, and dad, Mike, Laliberte said he had approximately six people, including local Elks representatives, cheering for him in the crowd.

"I thought the experience was pretty fun," Laliberte said. "I enjoyed it. It got a lot harder as I went along, but we were all on the same level. I definitely plan on competing next year. I kind of get to sleep in now."

Drew Turner can be contacted at 970-824-7031, ext 211, or

Commenting has been disabled for this item.