5 locals grab district titles

Five Greater Nashua Elks Hoop Shoot champions won 2016 Southwest District Hoop Shoot championships on Jan. 9 at the Derry Boys and Girls Club.

Nashua 11-year-old Ariana Sola, last year’s state champion, had the hottest hand at the district free throw event, draining 24 of 25 shots for the Girls 10-11 Division.

She was joined in the Winner’s Circle by a pair of Nashua girls – 9-year-old Taylor Joyal, who sunk 12 free throws to win the Girls 8-9 age Division, and 13-year-old Erin Bourgeois, who dropped in 14 free throws to win the Girls 12-13 Division. Two local boys also won their age brackets, as 9-year-old Connor Kelly, of Nashua, won the Boys 8-9 Division and Hudson 11-year-old Colin Toohey won the Boys 10-11 Division with 18 of 25 free throws made.

It took a little extra effort for Kelly to advance, tying Keene 9-year-old Lane Berg with 18 of 25 free throws each to force a five-shot shoot-off to break the tie. Kelly made three for the win, as Berg only converted on two.

The Nashua Elks other contender, 13-year-old Michael Rzasa finished third in the Boys 12-13 Division, which was won by Manchester’s Cameron Pollock, who dropped in 22 of 25 free throws.

The six 2016 State Elks Southwest District Hoop Shoot champions were presented with first place gold trophies by State Elks President-elect Chris Woltering, of Derry/Salem, at the awards luncheon held in the Derry/Salem Elks Lodge after the contest. This now completes the second level of Hoop Shoot competition.

The Southwest District champions will join their counterparts from the Southeast District – Katie Yeaton, Bella Slover and Dustin Colburn, of the Portsmouth Elks, and Derry/ Salem Elks representatives Lexi Steeve, Jordan Sharpe and Jack Zabriskle – in the 2016 State Elks Hoop Shoot Championship in Franklin against the Northwest and Northeast District champions on February 7.

State Champions will go on to the New England Elks Regional competition in South Portland, Maine, on March 19, with those winners going on to the Elks National Hoop Shoot Finals in Chicago in April. National winners will have their names inscribed, in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. More than 1.5 million boys and girls have competed in this year’s Elks National Hoop Shoot program.