Students face off in Elks Hoop Shoot

Elks Hoop Shoot Director Donnie Handley (middle) poses with Outstanding Shooter Award recipients Jay Lamar of West Point Middle (left) and Lexi Golden of Fairview Middle (right). (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – More than 100 students ages 8-13 participated in the Cullman Elks Hoop Shoot Sunday afternoon at Cullman Middle School. The hoop shoot is a free-throw competition, and local winners have the chance to advance through district, state, regional and national hoop shoots.

“It’s exciting,” said Local Elks Hoop Shoot Director Donnie Handley. “We had about 120-140 kids in Cullman County shoot from 21 schools. A lot of people ask, ‘How do you get 21 schools?’ Well see, we have five schools like elementary, junior high and intermediate, so they don’t just shoot from one school. We got all of them here and they shoot in each age bracket; there’s 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13 for age brackets. We try to shoot them as fast as we can. We have four (basketball) goals; we split up the girls on two goals and the boys on two goals so they can go a little bit faster.”

Handley talked about the different competition levels.

“It’s just a great competition,” he said, “they can go up six different levels. They have the school level, the local level, then district in Decatur, then the state in Birmingham, the regional in Valdosta, Georgia, and we have the national in Chicago.”

“Depending on how they place determines if they get to the next level,” said Cullman Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Dale Ball.

“This is totally funded by the Elks,” Handley continued. “We don’t receive any money from anybody- we don’t raise money; this is just funded by Elks and the Elks put it on.”

“We at the lodge recruit volunteers,” said Ball. “We’re an all-volunteer association, so those who have an interest in it come out and help us. It’s a great contest we do annually.”

Handley noted it takes 25 volunteers to be able to host the hoop shoot, “It takes a head scorer, a head referee, two ball chasers (to catch rebounds) and three scorers with me and my assistant on the court.”


Age group 8-9

1st place: Tucker Douglas of Vinemont Elementary with 21/25 shots

2nd place: Tyce Thompson of West Point Elementary with 19/25 shots

3rd place: Carysn Boorsma of Good Hope Elementary with 18/25 shots

1st place: Olivia Yeager of East Elementary with 18/25 shots

2nd place: Hagen Ellis of Cold Springs Elementary with 17/25 shots

3rd place: Lily Allbright of Holly Pond Elementary with 13/25 shots


Age group 10-11

1st place: Konnor Dunkin of Parkside with 20/25 shots

2nd place: Sam Marsh of Vinemont Elementary with 16/25 shots

3rd place: Jake Murphree of West Elementary with 15/25 shots

1st place: Kelly Waters of West Point Elementary with 16/25 shots (won shoot-off with 3/5 shots)

2nd place: Blakely Baggett of Holly Pond Elementary with 16/25 shots (lost shoot-off with 2/5 shots)

3rd place: Kadence Hanback of West Elementary with 14/25 shots


Age group 12-13

1st place: Jay Lamar of West Point Middle with 22/25 shots (won ‘Outstanding Shooter’ out of boys)

2nd place: Kaden Graham of Vinemont Middle with 18/25 shots (won shoot-off 3/5 shots)

3rd place: Ben Conway of Cullman Middle with 18/25 shots (lost shoot-off 2/5 shots)

1st place: Lexi Golden of Fairview Middle with 19/25 shots (won ‘Outstanding Shooter’ out of girls)

2nd place: Hallie Wheeler of West Point Middle with 19/25 shots (lost shoot-off)

3rd place: Kendall Bussman of East Elementary with 15/25 shots


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Maggie Darnell