SYCAMORE – It came down to the last round.
Brendan Fritz and Benji Prendergast had tied for the most free throws made for boys ages 12-13 in the Hoops Shoot Free Throw Contest last Saturday morning at Sycamore High School. Co-sponsored by the Sycamore Elks Club B.P.O.E. 1392 and the Sycamore Park District, the contest was part of the Elks’ national competition.
According to Lisa White of the park district, the contest was divided into three age groups for girls and boys: 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13. Each group had two rounds. In the first, competitors shot 10 free throws; in the second, 15. The top two place finishers in each group moved on to the next level.
Elk Lisa Valle said there are five levels: local, district, state, regional and national.
As part of the Northwest District, those advancing from the Sycamore competition advance to the Rock Island District on Jan. 18, Elks Director Greg Prater said. The nationals are scheduled for April.
“Next year I could have it here,” Prater said, since it is hosted on a rotating basis. “We do this to get the kids out, give them some activity, bring the community out and get us a little recognition.”
Although the contest was open to any youth in the area, most of the 35 who signed up were from Sycamore.
Since Prendergast and Fritz tied in their division, the winner was determined by a five-shot shoot-off. When Prendergast missed all five shots, Fritz stepped to the line. Starting from dead center, he continued taking a step to his left until he nailed his third shot to win.
“I don’t shoot good straight-on,” he explained. “So I started shooting from an angle.”
Fritz, who recently moved to Sycamore from Waterman, said he’s been playing basketball since the fourth grade. “There weren’t a lot of other opportunities,” he said.
In another shoot-off, Lilly Klassen defeated Rachell McMillion in the girls’ 8-9 division.