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Knights of Columbus Hosts Local Youth Free Throw Championship

Posted on March 2nd, 2016 by

Categories: Basketball

Willie Wilson III sank his first eight free throws and never looked back enroute to an impressive victory in the Boys 10-year-old division in the Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Free Throw Championship on Sunday, January 24 at Polk State College in Winter Haven.

A student at Lakeland Christian School, Wilson won his division by making 12 of his allotted 15 shots from the charity stripe. This was the most free throws made by any contestant in this year’s K of C competition.

In his final year of eligibility in the K of C event, Tyler Best captured the Boys 14 division title by putting 11 shots through the hoop. Best, who attends the Davenport School of the Arts, placed first in the Boys 13 division last year and was this year’s only repeat winner.

2016 Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Free Throw contest

Boys division winners in the 2016 Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Free Throw contest staged Sunday at Polk State College are (l to r) Blaise Watts, Cameron O’Byrne, Willie Wilson III, Tyler Best, John DeMaria and Jaylen Clark. Flanking them are knights Brian Sharak, who co-chaired the event, and Scott Sharak. Wilson was the contest’s most accurate free throw shooter, sinking 12 of his allotted 15 shots to capture the Boys 10-year-old division trophy.

In other Boys’ division action, Blaise Watts, a student at Sikes Elementary School in Lakeland, sank five shots to claim the Boys 9 first place trophy; Jaden DeMaria of Westwood Elementary School made 11 shots, including eight of this last 10, to claim the Boys 11 title; Jaylen Clark of Jewett Academy sank eight shots to win the Boys 12 title; and Cameron O’Byrne of Lakeland Christian claimed the first place trophy in the Boys 13 competition by sinking 10 shots. O’Byrne traveled all the way from Mulberry to compete.

Jaylen Clark’s older sister, Jamie Clark, who like her brother attends Jewett Academy, emerged as the Girls 13 champion by making four of her allotted 15 shots, while Elbert Elementary School student Aleah McPartlan earned the Girls10 division championship by making two shots. There were no contestants in the Girls 9, 11, 12 and 14 year old divisions.

2016 Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Free Throw contest

Girls division winners in the 2016 Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Free Throw contest Aleah McPartlan and Jamie Clark proudly display their trophies and certificates. Flanking them are knights Brian Sharak, Jim McPartlan and Scott Sharak.

All contestants were presented with a certificate and McDonald’s gift card, with the first place winners also earning a trophy and a berth a district free throw contest set for February 13 at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Winter Haven. District winners will advance to the regionals, and if successful on that level, will compete in the state finals in late February in Haines City.

Susan Searls, a Davenport School of the Arts faculty member, was presented with a special trophy by the K of C as a token of appreciation for her help in recruiting kids for this year’s and previous K of C Free Throw contests. This year’s K of C free throw championship was co-chaired by knights Brian Sharak and William “Billy Bob” Morris. Knights who assisted them were Ken Nelson, Jim McPartlan, Ruben Sanabria and Scott Sharak. Elaine Morris, wife of Billy Bob Morris, also helped.

“We thank all of the boys and girls, as well as their parents, for their participation and wish our first place winners good luck when they compete in the district shoot off on February 13,” Brian Sharak said. “I also thank my brother knights for their assistance.”

2016 Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Free Throw contest

All contestants in the 2016 Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Free Throw contest with members of the Polk State College varsity basketball team and members of the Knights of Columbus who staged the event. The varsity players, led by their coach Matt Furjanic, offered a free basketball clinic for the boys and girls prior to the free throw competition.

PSC head basketball coach Matt Furjanic and several of the school’s varsity basketball players offered a free basketball clinic for all the kids before the free throw contest began. Catherine Frank, a PSC professor and professional calligrapher, inscribed the certificates and Bonnie Salary, a physical education teacher and volleyball coach at Haines City High School, began the contest with a spirited vocal rendition of the “National Anthem.”

Morris thanked coach Furjanic and his players for offering the free basketball clinic and PSC officials for making the gym available for the event. “We also thank McDonalds for donating gift cards and Catherine Frank and Bonnie Salary for the valuable roles they played.”

The K of C Youth Free Throw Championship is a major youth initiative of the Knights of Columbus. Each year more than 200,000 young sharpshooters from all over the United States participate in competitions sponsored by local K of C councils.

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