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Feb 22, 2010 9:47 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Local children compete in Hoop Shoot

Feb 22, 2010 9:47 AM

Nine-year-old Elijah Wingfield and 8-year-old Riley Tupper got to test their basketball shooting skills against an elite group of their talented peers over the weekend when they competed in the Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot in Poughkeepsie on Saturday.

Wingfield, a student at Southampton Elementary School, and Tupper, a student at the Hampton Bays Elementary School, both advanced to the Southeast Regional round in their respective age groups. The Elks Lodge Hoop Shoot is a free-throw shooting competition for boys and girls who are split into groups according to age and gender. It is open to children age 8 to 13. Both Wingfield and Tupper began the competition by winning a local round at their schools. They then advanced to compete at the Southampton Town Recreation Center against other winners from across the East End. After winning there, both Wingfield and Tupper secured their spots in the regional round at Poughkeepsie.

The journey ended in Poughkeepsie for both young players. Wingfield finished fourth in the boys 8-9 age group after hitting 19 of 25 shots and Tupper was third in the same age group for girls, connecting on 14 of 25 attempts.

For Wingfield—who is the son of Southampton High School girls varsity basketball coach Richard “Juni” Wingfield—being a competitive athlete in many sports is a goal he seems quite equipped to fulfill in the near future. Wingfield also plays football, soccer, baseball and lacrosse and his father says he can’t get enough of any sport.

“He loves sports,” the elder Wingfield said. “Every day I find that he has something new that he wants to excel at. It just takes him being involved in something once and he says, ‘Oh, I love this.’”

When Tupper isn’t on a basketball court, she can usually be found on horseback, which her mother, Diane, says is her daughter’s other passion. The younger Tupper followed in the footsteps of her older sister, Darby, by competing in the Hoop Shoot for the first time this year.

Both Tupper and Wingfield spent time practicing their free-throw shooting at SYS on the weekends before traveling up to Poughkeepsie. The parents of both children said that nerves weren’t a factor for either child once they made it to the big stage.

“Elijah has a way of not putting pressure on himself,” Wingfield said. “Between every shot, I know he was thinking about how excited he was to go snowboarding afterward.”

Like Elijah, Riley was also cool as a cucumber at the free-throw line, according to her mother.

“She was unflappable,” she said. “I don’t know how they do it, they get in a zone I guess.”

Both youngsters plan on competing in the Hoop Shoot event for the next several years and judged on their performance in their first tries, they both could advance even further next time.

From the millions of youngsters who participate and advance through local, district, state and regional competition, six national champions are named—one boy and one girl in each of three categories: age 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13. The winners each receive a trophy and their names are inscribed on a plaque at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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