The Second Annual Basketball Bonanza will provide youngsters aspiring to someday be the next Steve Nash a stage to brandish what they have learned in pickup games and the back yard hoop.
The competition, sponsored by the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association and the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, tips off at 9 a.m. Feb. 25 in the Payson High School gymnasium.
"This is a great opportunity for boys and girls to show off their skills and hopefully participate at a higher level," said Charlene Hunt, recreation specialist for the Payson P&R Department.
The event is open, free of charge, to both boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14.
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 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 Payson competition will be eligible to advance to a statewide Basketball Bonanza at America West Arena in Phoenix.
At the state level, however, players may compete in just one skill contest.
Last year's Payson winners included:
9-10 girls -- Summer Kelly (free throw, three-point, hot shot);
11-12 girls -- Jamie McCabe (three-point), Chrissey Badgley (free throw) and Natasha Nielsen (hot shot);
13-14 girls -- Cydney Figueroa (three-point and hot shot) and Beth Hoyt (free throw);
9-10 boys --allas Haught (three-point), Race Smith (free throw) and Chris Cooper (hot shot);
11-12 boys -- Zach Blazer (three-point), Cameron Geske (free throw) and Josh Butler (hot shot);
13-14 boys -- Chris Blazer (three-point and hot shot) and Devin England (free throw).
Blazer, now a seventh-grader at Rim Country Middle School, went on to win the state three-point championship for 11- and 12-year-old boys. In the finals, he scored 12 points and sank three money balls.
Complete bonanza rules are available at the parks and recreation offices at Green Valley Park.
Call (928) 474-5242, ext. 7 for more information.