Youngsters lay it on the line in hopes of winning Hoop Shoot

January 29, 2006|By DON AINES


Wyatt McBee is something of a gym rat, hitting the high school gym as often as he can to shoot the basketball around with friends and play a little one-on-one.

Recently, the Oakland, Md., boy has been concentrating on his foul shooting, honing that skill for the Elks West District Hoop Shoot Finals. Practice made him nearly perfect Saturday, as he hit 24 of 25 from the charity stripe for a 96 percent average.

Basketballs rattled off rims, got a good bounce, hit nothing but net or occasionally caught nothing but air as about three dozen boys and girls ranging from 8 to 13 years old tested their skills against each other in the hoop shoot.

"Lately, I've been shooting 100 after school, maybe three, four, five times a week," said McBee, who won the competition for 12- and 13-year-olds at St. Maria Goretti High School and will move up to the state competition next month in Frederick, Md.


It will not be unfamiliar territory for Wyatt.

"I won here last year and won states and came in second in regionals," where the contest draws shooters from four states, he said.

"The high school is day care for him," said his mother, Christa Moran.

McBee was the top shooter for the event, winning his age group by seven buckets, but there were other sharpshooters at the event, such as Lucas Ritchie of Oakland, who dropped 23 of his 25 attempts to lead the 8- and 9-year-olds.

Ritchie's father, Dave, said his son usually does not shoot that well in practice, "but he usually does pretty well under pressure."

Ryan Grant led the competition among 10- and 11-year-old boys, hitting 22 of 25. One shot back was William Long of Hagerstown, while Blake Bender of Frostburg, Md., knocked down 20 of his shots.

In the girls' competition, Madison Bachtell of Hagerstown was best among the 8- and 9-year-olds, hitting 15 of her free throws. Her grandfather, St. Maria Goretti boys basketball coach Cokey Robertson, admits having given her a few pointers.

Margaret Payne of Westminster, Md., stirred some memories for her mother, Amy Payne, when she won the shootout for 10- and 11-year-olds.

"I did the same thing as an 11-year-old in 1978 and went to the nationals in Kansas City," she said.

"She lives and breathes basketball," father John Payne said of Margaret, who hit 17 from the line.

Stephanie Fazenbaker of Frostburg, who also made 17 shots, won the in the 12- and 13-year-old competition.

Dottie Miller, who co-chaired the event with her husband, C. Walter Miller, said competitors from the Cumberland, Hagerstown, Frostburg, Frederick, Westminster and Oakland Elks lodges sent up to six competitors to the event. The state competition will be Feb. 18 at the Whittier Recreation Center in Frederick, she said.

"For the kids, it's competition, but it ends up being national recognition when they go to the next level," said Sandy Brantner, the vice president West of the Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C. Elks Association.

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