DILLON — A handful of young athletes from southwest Montana claimed victories at the Elks South District Hoop Shoot Saturday at Montana Western’s Straugh Gymnasium.
Butte’s Miles Choquette, Dillon’s Kyler Engellant and Charity Hildreth and Boulder’s Brianna Layng were among those who won age group championships. (Results)
Choquette knocked down 22 of 25 free throws to win the boys’ 8-9 age group. Rylie Estes of Anaconda took second with 17.
Engellant made 23 free throws and then edged Anaconda’s River Hurley 4-3 in a shootout to win the boys’12-13 crown.
In the boys’ 10-11 division, Danny Connors of Helena made 23 free throws for the victory. Peter Kelly of Ennis finished second at 19.
Hildreth made 19 shots to top the field in the girls’ 12-13 age group. She beat Helena’s Erica Shields by two shots.
Layng won the girls’ 10-11 age group with 18 made free throws. Skylar LaPierre made 12 shots for second place.
In the girls’ 8-9 group, Emily Connors of Helena won with 18 made shots Brigid Mehrens placed second with 13.
Trophies were awarded to the first- and second-place finishers in each age group, and the top three in each category will advance to the Montana State Hoop Shoot, which is Feb. 1 in Livingston. They will compete against other top performers from district tournaments around the state.
The six Montana state champions will advance to the Regional Hoop Shoot in Rapid City, South Dakota on March 14. The National Finals are in Chicago on April 18. The names of all the national winners are engraved on plaques at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The contestants who participated at the District Hoop Shoot Saturday were crowned champions at their local lodge contest within the Montana South District, which is made up of Anaconda (No. 239), Butte (No. 240), Deer Lodge (No. 1737), Dillon (No. 1554) and Helena (No. 193). Those contestants also won contests at their schools to advance to the lodge Hoop Shoots.
This program is totally sponsored by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the U.S.A. It is endorsed by hundreds of school systems around the country. The Elks fund the program primarily through its National Foundation and the support of the local lodges and state associations.
The Elks Hoop Shoot began as a local program by Corvallis, Oregon Elks in 1946. It is in its 47th year of national competition. More than three million boys and girls are expected to participate this school year.