Hoop Shoot scores with these kids
Jake Sisson, 12, of Turners Falls concentraties before taking a practice shot at Sunday's Hoop Shoot at the Greenfield YMCA . Sisson made it to Regionals last year. Trish Crapo photo.
Jake Dodge, 9, of Turners Falls, takes a practice shot during Sunday's Hoop Shoot at the YMCA in Greenfield.
GREENFIELD — Nine area children showed Sunday you don’t need to be tall or earn a multi-million-dollar NBA salary to make a free throw.
Jake Dodge, 9, of Montague, was one of four young competitors to move on to the next level of the Elks Hoop Shoot competition, winning the competitive 8- to 9-year-old age bracket with 20 out of a possible 25 hoops.
The Greenfield Lodge of Elks sponsored its annual Hoop Shoot in the YMCA gym Sunday, part of a national Elks program offering children ages 8 to 13 the opportunity to shoot their way up through five levels of competition to the grand prize, their name inscribed in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.
This is Dodge’s second year winning his age bracket and he said winning felt awesome.
While he had no competition last year, this year Dodge’s age bracket was the busiest by far with five entrants.
Parents and the other competitors gave occasional shouts of encouragement and clapped for each basket as the eight boys took turns at the free throw line, or several feet in front for the youngest bracket.
Jake Sisson, 12, of Turners Falls, has competed for several years and this year hopes to go all the way to the national level.
Sisson and his father agree he has probably been competing in the Hoop Shoot since he was 8 or 9, in Greenfield and Montague, this year opting for Greenfield when he learned he wasn’t allowed to compete in both.
Sisson has made it as far as the state level and expects to do better with a right arm no longer in a brace.
“Last year I did it with a broken wrist, this year I’m back,” Sisson said, backing up his pre-game optimism with a 17-hoop win in the 12-to-13 age bracket, which had two entrants.
Xavier Santiago, 11, of Millers Falls, had an uncontested win in the 10-to-11 age bracket with 18 hoops.
Xavier’s mother, Susan Collette, said he has competed since he was eight and loves the sport.
“He loves it, he just had a game and we came straight from the game,” Collette said.
Xavier said he finished fourth at the state level two years ago, and his response to why he plays is simple.
“For fun,” he said.
Rounding out the list of four who qualified to move on is Maelin Manning, 8, of Greenfield, and the sole entry at any age in the girls’ division.
Manning said she came because of her grandfather, Sidney “Sid” Jensen.
“I’m the Exalted Ruler of the Greenfield lodge, and this is my Exalted Granddaughter,” Jensen said. “So I like to keep her in the loop on things.”
Manning made no baskets in the competition, but did shoot six in practice, according to her grandfather, a number Manning quickly corrects to seven.
The top three in each bracket received a trophy, and all were invited to a dinner at the Elks lodge.
Robert Mott, the lodge’s Hoop Shoot director, said the winners will also have their names added to a recognition board on the lodge wall.
The district Hoop Shoot is scheduled for Jan. 12 in Leominster, followed by the state and regional levels and capped with the national finals April 18-20.
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
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