Who's Best At Shooting Hoops?

Annual Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot Saturday

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If tomorrow's Payson Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot contest is highlighted by the drama of some past events, it will be a barnburner.

Among the most memorable competitions were those in 2002 and 2005.

In the Elks 2002 finals, Jason Sweet and Hunter Hardt, who were then both members of the Rim Country Middle School seventh-grade basketball team, locked horns in a best-of-25 free throw competition.

Both youngsters were successful on 19 of their 25 shots. Their 76 percent shooting averages sent tongues wagging in Tonto Apache Gym, mostly because the mark was better than many high school, college and professional players can put up.

As good as their accuracy was, things got even better after that.

Due to the tie, Elks officials opted for a sudden-death tiebreaker in which each boy received five free-throw attempts. In the extra period, Hardt sunk all five and Sweet was successful on four.

By the time the excitement had settled down, the two had turned in one of the finest shooting performances in the history of the local Elks program.

Hardt went on to play last season, as a senior, on the Longhorn state runner-up basketball team. Sweet turned his interest to baseball and as a senior in 2007, was one of the Longhorns' best players.

Another Hoop Shoot nail-biter unfolded three years later in the 10- and 11-year-old boy's division After the first round of 25 shots, Jeffrey Kelly and Jimmy Zimmer were dead-knotted, causing Elk officials to call this time for a 10-shot overtime.

In OT, Kelley claimed the championship by narrowest of possible margins -- a single successful shot.

In the entire contest, Kelley sank 16 of his 35 attempts and Zimmer made good on 15 of 35.

Hoop Shoot on deck

The Payson Elks Lodge will host the 2007 edition of the program beginning at 9 a.m. tomorrow in the Tonto Apache gymnasium. The program is expected to continue until about noon.

Entrants should be at the gym one hour before the contest begins to complete registration.

There is no registration fee and boys and girls ages eight to 13 are invited to attend.

Entrants will compete in separate boys and girls age divisions.

They are: 8-9 years, 10-11 years and 12-13 years.

All entrants must wear tennis or basketball shoes.

Officials say all contestants will be allowed 10 minutes to warm up and get acquainted with the floor and basket.

For more information, contact Payson Lodge Hoop Shoot Chairman Tim Ernst (928) 4

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