Craig athletes straight shooters in Elks basketball free throw contest |

Craig athletes straight shooters in Elks basketball free throw contest

Top competitors in the 2018 Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest display their awards at the Elks Lodge.
Andy Bockelman
2018 Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest Craig winners Boys • 8 to 9 First — Liam Mannon Second — Christian Ausmus Third — Grady Martinez • 10 to 11 First — Brodie Wooden Second — Jayden Evenson Third — Andrew Poole Fourth — Jovany Quezada Fifth — William Tucker Sixth — Daniel Gomez • 12 to 13 First — Hudson Jones Second — Grady Wooden Third — Wyatt Tucker Fourth — Gavin Barrett Fifth — Aydan Duncan Sixth — Elijah Gomez Girls • 8 to 9 First — Yoselin Rojas-Valdez • 10 to 11 First — Vyvien Williams Second — Mena Tucker Third — Teryn Carter Fourth — Adrian Profumo Fifth — Jordyn Mannon, Daisy Rojas-Valdez • 12 to 13 First — Emilia Tucker Second — Lilliana Williams Third — Alyssa LeWarne

Young athlete Brodie Wooden has a strategy when it comes to shooting free throws: step up to the line, dribble the ball twice and then let it fly.

The routine served him well Saturday morning, enough so that he’ll be able to test it again in a couple months as one of the top Craig finishers in the Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest.

The yearly youth sports offering had 25 kids putting their basketball skills to the test at Sandrock Elementary School.

Not only was it a good amount of competitors, organizer Frank Sadvar noted, but the level of shooting was intense as kids forced multiple shoot-offs to determine the winners.

Sadvar later handed out medals during a ceremony lunch at the Elks Lodge.

Vyvien Williams was on fire as the top shooter of any age in regular rounds, winning the girls 10- to 11-year-old division handily. With 25 possible shots after the practice round, she only missed four, getting on a hot streak with 13 in a row.

For boys in the same age group, Brodie Wooden started strong with eight straight makes, ultimately sinking 14 to get the gold. With eight successful buckets, a shootout ensued between the next three contestants, Jayden Evenson, Andrew Poole and Jovany Quezada, put Evenson second, Poole third and Quezada fourth.

For boys 12 and 13, Hudson Jones earned 22 for the day for the most total baskets, 18 in the initial round then another four in a tiebreaker against Brodie’s brother, Grady, who was right behind at 21.

For 12 and 13 girls, Emilia Tucker hit nine on the day in her first time in the competition. Also in her debut in the contest, Mena Tucker placed second behind Williams.

“It felt good. I was really able to focus up there,” Mena said.

For the youngest bracket at ages 8 and 9, Liam Mannon sank eight shots to win, while Yoselin Rojas-Valdez had three.

“She can look at this as a practice year because she’s got at least three or four more years to keep getting better,” Sadvar said.

The long-running Hoop Shoot program is a staple of the Elks, a service organization that celebrated its 150th anniversary this year.The local winners will move on to the district round Jan. 11 in Rifle, the top finishers of which will compete at state and regional rounds with the possibility of taking on the national event in Chicago this spring.

Until then, practice makes perfect.

Brodie attended districts last year, but he’s got a feeling this year will be far better as he is likely to see familiar foe.

“I just hope I can beat that kid from Salida from last year,” he said.

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