|Tai Justice accepts his trophy and medal with Joe "Basic" Warren and president elect Peter Bravo.|
Having already tasted glory in local, district and state competitions, Tai Justice captured another first place finish on March 1 when he wowed crowds at the Elks Hoop Shoot Northwest Regional Championship. Tai, the 11 year old son of Courtnee and Chris Justice, demonstrated an accuracy from the penalty line well beyond his years and brought honors to his hometown of Huntington.
Representing the Elks Lodge #1550, Tai, a student at Huntington Elementary School, sank 19 out of 25 free throws in the 10-11 year old boys division, making him a true standout in the field of more than 3 million boys and girls, ages 8-13, who have participated in the contest since last fall.
Now he will travel with his parents, courtesy of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks to Springfield, Mass., the birthplace of basketball, to be among the 72 top youngsters vying for the chance to claim one of six national trophies awarded at the Elks Hoop Shoot National Free Throw contest April 24-27. A great showing in the national championship will not only earn Tai a place in Elks Hoop Shoot history, but also land his name on a plaque in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Now in its 36th year, the Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw contest has seen more than 105 million participants since its inception, making it the largest co-educational youth sports program in the nation. Funded entirely by the B.P.O.E., the Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw contest has served as a testing ground for sports legends Cleveland Cavalier's Trojan Langdon, WNBA 2001 Rookie of the Year Jackie Stiles of the former Portland Fire, Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Steve Alford, Olympic gold medalist and former Golden State Warriors Chris Mullin, former North Carolina State star Jennifer Howard, and former Chicago White Sox third baseman Chris Snopek.
The B.P.O.E. is a patriotic and philanthropic fraternal organization with nearly 1 million members in more than 2,100 communities.