NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Practice makes perfect, but some can get away with little to none of it.
That was the case Saturday in the Elks National Hoop Shoot, put on by the Glendale Elks Lodge No. 1289 at Hoover High. Alex Palacios and Michelle Gee, respective winners of the boys' and girls' 12 to 13-year old divisions, sank their competition with little to no preparation.
Palacios, a 13-year old eighth-grader at Saint Dominic's School in Los Angeles, took second in the competition last year, and was able to improve on that showing by making 18 of 25 free throws this year without stressing.
"I practiced just like an hour before today," Palacios said. "I came in confident."
The event's chairman John Jolly said about 45 kids came out Saturday to compete in six different divisions for 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13 year-old boys and girls.
Each division's first, second and third-place finishers were given a trophy and basketball, but none of the 45 contestants walked away empty handed, as everyone received a certificate with their name on it.
"That way everyone walks away with something," said Jolly, who has participated in the event for 13 years.
Each contestant represented their respective schools Saturday after qualifying for the Elks National Hoop Shoot at the school level.
"I enjoy the pride the youngsters take knowing they are representing their school," Jolly said.
Jolly is always looking for ways to help the event grow. Every year, the Glendale Elks Lodge No. 1289 invites physical education teachers from schools in the Glendale area to conduct the competition at school and send the winners on to the next round.
"One of the challenges we have is trying to get more participation from some of the schools," Jolly said. "We try to make it as easy as possible at the school level so it's easy to participate. Realistically, I should have twice as many schools as I have today. I try to increase that number every year, but it seems like we just stabilize at 10 schools a year."
The six winners from Saturday have a chance of advancing to the regional, state and national rounds, depending on how they fare in districts, which is scheduled for Jan. 14 in Chatsworth.
Gee, a 12-year old seventh grader at Rosemont Middle School, won the girls' 12-13 division by sinking 18 of 25 free throws without practicing at all beforehand.
Gee is planning on changing up her strategy for the next round.
"Maybe [I'll advance], if I practice more," Gee said.