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Free throw contest brings out the best

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:20PM January 11th, 2018

Northwest Guardian

Nayali Hernandez-Rodriguez, 10, lets the ball go during one of her attempts in the Knights of Columbus Council 10652 Free Throw Competition on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Saturday.

Top shooters

Boys age 9 – Brandon Vargas

Boys age 10 – Bradley Audette

Girls age 10 – Nayali Hernandez-Rodriguez

Boys age 11 – Darius Samuelu Tuia

Boys age 12 – Gabe Lucas

Girls age 12 – Taleah Richardson

Boys age 13 – Hayden Liller

Boys age 14 – Katrell Walker

Bradley Audette, 10, came prepared to the Knights of Columbus Council 10652 basketball free throw competition inside Child and Youth Services’ Parent Central Services’ gymnasium on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Saturday night.

While wearing a replica jersey of his favorite professional basketball player — Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors — Bradley made 11 of 15 free throws to clinch the title in the boys’ age 10 division.

The win advances him to a future Knights of Columbus district-level competition, along with seven other JBLM youths who won their age divisions by scoring high in their 15 free throw attempts.

Bradley was also tied for the most points, perhaps fitting for someone wearing the jersey of one of the most consistent scoring threats currently in the National Basketball Association. And just like the professional, Audette was able to make an adjustment after a few early misses.

“I did a little bit better aiming to get the ball right into the basket,” Bradley said.

Similar to Curry’s form, Bradley usually practices shooting from the three-point range.

His parents are happy to see his improvements show in competition. His mother, Tiffany Audette, said he’s shown growth since he began shooting at age 2 with a Little Tikes basketball hoops.

“It’s amazing the things he’s done and how’s he’s advanced so far,” Audette said.

The other youth to score a high of 11 points was Katrell Walker, who won the boys’ age 14 division. Walker said he didn’t feel any pressure when there was a large crowd of peers and coaches surrounding him from the three-point arc.

“Whenever I’m in a game, I have eyes on me, too,” Walker said. “To me, (this is) like basically playing a game.”

The free throw competition was hosted after a full day of CYS basketball leagues held their Saturday games. As the competition grew closer, CYS staff and coaches spread the word to parents about the opportunity to test one of the fundamental skills in basketball.

CYS coach Damian DeCastro saw five of his kids from different age group teams earn a berth into the district round. In addition to Audette and Walker, Brandon Vargas, 9; Darius Samuelu Tuia, 11; and Taleah Richardson, 12, all won their respective divisions.

“It’s impressive,” DeCastro said. “All the effort they put into it (all season) shows.”

The JBLM youth contest attracted 20 shooters aiming for a berth into the district-level of competition, to be announced later. The Knights of Columbus will advance the best of each district into a regional competition, which looks for the best to compete in a state championship.

This is the second year Council 10652 held a council championship on JBLM. Before last year, athletes had to look for a council championship outside of the installation.

“They’re already here playing basketball; why not (have them) stick around and shoot some free throws,” said Greg Kaufman, youth director for Council 10652.

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon