Merced County Times Newspaper
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Merced Elks and youth basketball — a winning combination  



What do Elks and basketball have in common?

The Elks Club in Merced is so much more than great company, delicious food, and cold drinks. Elks members are dedicated to their community. From lunches for people with special needs, scholarships for outstanding students, raising money for disabled children, and their annual “Hoop Shoot” competition, the Elks Club is a cornerstone of a strong community.

Last Saturday, Dec. 10, the Elks held their 51st annual Hoop Shoot competition. The nationwide event aims to instill grit, sportsmanship, character, and competitiveness into its contestants. The Hoop Shoot has produced numerous NBA players, most notably the eight-time All-Star player Vince Carter.

Children ages 8-13 lined up in the early morning at the El Capitan High School gymnasium for the annual competition. Contestants go head-to-head in a best of 25 free throw competition. After winning at the local level, contestants move to the district, state, and regional levels, then eventually to the National Finals held at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

The airfare, meals, and hotel accommodations are all provided by the Elks to ensure that all families have to worry about is the next shot.

Eight-year-old Elijah Flores sunk enough free throws to win the boys’ 8-9 age group of the competition. Watching in the stands were his two proud grandparents who had driven him to the event that morning. Flores is a Pioneer Elementary student who dreams of becoming a basketball player. In his free time, he shoots hoops in his backyard and hones his skills. Flores will move on to the district level held in Modesto, where he will represent the city of Merced. The district-level competition is held at 11 a.m. on Feb. 4, at Modesto Middle School.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America is a national social club with a chapter here in Merced. The Elks originated as an American fraternal order founded in 1868 in New York City. The first members were minstrel show performers who established a private club to elude strict New York City public tavern laws. Through the decades, the Elks have spread throughout the county with a chapter eventually establishing a home in Merced.

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