CANYON CITY- Humbolt fourth-grader, Alex Taylor, punched numbers on a cell phone, excitedly sharing the good news of his second-place win in his division at the Grant County Elks Hoop Shoot Dec. 9 at the Humbolt Elementary School gym.

He and a 23 other youth qualified for the hoop shoot in their PE class at school. During the hoop shoot, students were divided into three age groups: 8 to 9, 10 to 11 and 12 to 13, with boys on one side of the gym and girls on the other.

First-place winners now have a chance to compete at the district hoop shoot in Prineville Feb. 3, and second-place finishers will be alternates only if the first-place winners are unable to attend. Third-place winners were rewarded with a plaque.

Holding a trophy, Taylor said he was happy with his score of 13/25 and summed up the event best, "I don't really care if I didn't get first place," he said. "I just had fun." Garrett Hitz of Prairie City edged out Taylor for the top spot in their division with 14/25.

Gail Enright oversaw the event as county director of the hoop shoot with several volunteers from the Elks Lodge including, John Day Elks Exalted Ruler Marvin Rynearson, Grant School District 3 Superintendent Newell Cleaver, Tom Wilson, Kenny DeLano, Tim Cooley, Dennis Flippence, Paul Smith, Gary Miller and Chris Maynard.

Shyanne Winters of Dayville, who competed with the 12- to 13-year-old girls, said, "I can't feel my legs ... because I was nervous."

A man standing nearby gave some advice, "Practice breathing," he said. Winters, who plays basketball at school, made 12 out of 25 shots.

Humbolt fifth-grader, Rayne Houser, also had cold feet at first, but held a first-place trophy for hitting 11/25. "I felt nervous coming in ," she said, "but once I started shooting, I felt better."

Monument 9-year-old, Maya Thomas, said she was "really excited" about her 12/25 score. She said she practices at home and thinks she'll make the trip to the district hoop shoot.

Blake Purnell was in the 12- to 13-year-old group, sinking 16/25 for a first-place trophy. He plays basketball for Prairie City school. This was Blake's second time winning.

Ian Goetsch of Widow's Creek Ranch in Mt. Vernon, also made a return trip to the top of the podium, competeing with the 10- to 11-year-olds. He and Humbolt fifth-grader, Jacob Legg, scored 9/25 and had a shoot off with Goetsch scoring 4/5 and Legg shooting 2/5. Goetsch said he was surprised at the win. He and his family were heading out to see his older brother, Josh Ewings, play basketball in Dayville, where they attend school.

After the event, Elks members served pizza, grilled-cheese sandwiches and hot dogs to the hoop shooters and their families at the Elks Lodge where Santa also paid a visit.

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