That bounce came courtesy of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks’ National Hoop Shoot Contest, which was held at the Houston Suggs Youth Facility in Cartersville.
About 75 youngsters — who punched their ticket to participate in the county shootout by winning out against their classmates throughout the Bartow County school system over the past few months — competed in the shootouts held at the youth facility.
The winners include, in the 8-9 boys division, Brynen Wilkins, who hit 17 of 25, and runner-up Tucker Deams, 16 of 25; 10-11 boys, Payton Roberts, 19 of 25; runner-up Justin Anderson, 14 of 25; 12-13 boys, Thomas Brown, 18 of 25; runner-up Curtis Bennett, 14 of 25.
Also winning were, in 8-9 girls, Sadie Roach, 11 of 25; runner-up, Carlie Hernandez, 8 of 25; 10-11 girls, Eshala Green, 9 of 25; runner-up, Bethany Kubala, 8 of 25; 12-13 girls, Kyla Michienzi, 16 of 25; runner-up, Jaclyn Hazelwood, 15 of 25.
Gary Robinette, Elks lodge coordinator, said Thursday’s winners will compete at the Northwest District competition in Calhoun in January. He said winners at the district competition will advance to state competition.
Robinette said the shootouts will continue until national champions are named after shootouts in late spring, adding his organization also pays the expense of competing at the state and subsequent competitions for the youths and their families.
“We are very involved in this community and this is just one of our programs,” Robinette said.
He said the contest involves an estimated 3 million youngsters annually with more than 200 million kids believed to have participated since the program’s inception 39 years ago.
He added the shootout is coordinated at the county level by the Bartow County Recreation Department.
“Without Greg Hight and his staff, we could not possibly do something like this on such a scale,” he said.
Hight said he doesn’t have final statistics on participation in this year’s event but estimated around 2,000 youngsters had competed just to get to the county event.
Physical education teachers in city and county elementary and middle schools coordinated participation in the event with their winners advancing to the county shootout.
Age categories for boys and girls were 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13.
Thursday night’s competition pitted youngsters who each shot 25 foul shots with the winner being the one who hit the highest number of shots. The youths also had the option of tossing five warmup shots, too.
Hight said the recreation department is involved in the program because it is aimed at youngsters.
“I think this is good for kids as well as our schools and community,” Hight said. “There is no cost for youngsters to participate, and it involves them in a sports activity and also helps them get exercise while exposing them to the fun in basketball.”
He also praised physical education teachers throughout the county for their involvement in the preliminary round.
Brenton Baggett said Bartow hoopsters have as good a chance as anyone of advancing in the competition.
“We’ve had winners from Bartow County who have gone on to participate at the state level,” he said.