Basketball Bonanza Comes To Town

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The inaugural Basketball Bonanza will provide young players with a stage to showcase the skills they've learned in pickup games, physical education classes, at camps and on the back yard hoop.

The competition, sponsored by the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association and the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, is at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 in the Payson High School gymnasium.

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Rim Country Middle School student Alli Hansen is among the youngsters who might participate in February's Basketball Bonanza. The event is sponsored by the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association and the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

According to town recreation specialist Charlene Hunt, Basketball Bonanza was put together by Suns and APRA officials to replace the NBA Two-Ball youth program that was discontinued last year.

"This is a great opportunity for boys and girls to show off their skills and hopefully participate at a higher level," Hunt said.

The event is open, free of charge, to both boys and girls 9 to 14 years of age.

In the competition, boys and girls will participate in one of six age/sex divisions: 9-10 years; 11-12 years; and 13-14 years.

In the local competition, players can compete in one or all of three basketball contests -- free throw, hot shot and three-point shootout.

In the free throw contest, each player attempts 10 consecutive free throws and the player making the most shots will be declared the division winner. Those in the 9-10 age group have the option of shooting from two feet inside the free throw line.

In the hot shot competition, players begin on a referee's whistlet the half-court line and must dribble into shooting range where they must shoot from a minimum of three different locations, of seven pre-designated spots, during a one-minute period.

Each shot location will be assigned a point value based on its difficulty.

Those who attempt shots from each of the seven locations will receive a five-point bonus.

The youngster scoring the most points in the time period will be deemed the division winner.

In the three-point shootout, a rack of five balls will be placed at five locations around the three-point line, 19 feet, 9 inches from the baskets.

Each player will have one minute to shoot as many times as possible around the arc. Each successful shot with one of the first four balls on the rack is worth one point. The fifth ball, deemed the "money ball," is worth two points.

The winners of the local competition will be eligible to advance to a statewide Basketball Bonanza tentatively scheduled for April 14 at America West Arena in Phoenix.

At the state level, players can compete in just one skill contest.

Complete rules are available at the parks and recreation offices at Green Valley Park.

Call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 for more information.

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