Locals shine at Knights of Columbus free throw challenge

Local winners accept their basketballs and certificates for claiming age division titles on Jan. 6.

Southington’s Lilly Cooper converted 23 out of 25 free throws at St. Paul Catholic High School to capture the state title in the annual Knights of Columbus free throw challenge. Cool under pressure, it was the second challenge in a row that Cooper sank all but two of her attempts in the girls 10-year old division.

On Jan. 6, seven locals advanced with local titles at Southington Catholic School. On Feb. 18, four captured titles at the regional competition, and Cooper finished the trifecta with Southington’s only state title.

“I would like to thank all the Southington youth and their parents that came out to support this fun event,” Knights of Columbus Council 15 Grand Knight Phil Mazzatti said in a press release. “We would also like to thank Mike Defeo and Dave Lapreay from the Southington youth basketball leagues and the Southington Recreation Department for helping to promote this event. Lastly, we want say a big thank you to Southington Catholic School for their continued support of the Knights youth programs.”

Lilly Cooper accepts her state trophy.

This year’s local competition drew 16 boys and girls aged 9-14 years in the first round of competition. Each boy and girl in the various age groups attempted 15 free throws, and the competitor that made the most free throws moved onto the district round at Plainville’s Our Lady of Mercy Church gymnasium.

Local winners included Tyson Mahaffy (9); Gage Dudac and Cooper (10); Ryan Hammarlund (11); Maximillan Krom and Gabriella Dangelo (12); and Aidan Buck (13). Mahaffy, Dudac, Cooper, and Dangelo went on to capture district titles.

Cooper claimed her state title with room to spare. Her closes competitor converted just 13 of her 25 attempts.

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