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Elks 'Hoop Shoot'
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Amidst the wintry weather, the Covington Elks Club annual Hoop Shoot was held Sunday at the Newton High School Gymnasium.

And despite the cool conditions, the annual event proved to be yet another success on the basketball court.

"We had a real good turnout and a lot of spectators there," said Jeff Dial, chairman of the Hoop Shoot. "We were very satisfied."

Overall, more than 4,000 kids from local elementary schools participated in the county-wide tournament.

The nationwide event - which is the largest non-commercial, co-educational sports program in the country - includes more than 3 million kids ages 8 to 13 each year.

Not only does the program build character and integrity, but it also promotes good sportsmanship.

Prior to the event, each of the schools had its own free-throw contest to determine who would participate in the Hoop Shoot.

Sunday's first-place winners include Alexis Nolley, Livingston (girls, age 8-9); Brantley Proffitt, Ficquett (boys, 8-9); Tiana Wise, Porterdale (girls, 10-11); Erin Francis, Fairview (boys, 10-11); Keondra Nipple, Ficquett (girls, 12-13) and Antarins Bates, East Newton (boys, 12-13).

Second-place finishers include Evnique Ayala, Rocky Plains (girls, 8-9); Andrew Scharf, Rocky Plains (boys, 8-9); Daezia Lovelace, Fairview (girls, 10-11); Tyree Ligon, Palmer Stone (boys, 10-11); Nytavja McKinnon, West Newton (girls, 12-13) and Malik Huff, Livingston (boys, 12-13).

On Feb. 9, the abovementioned winners representing Newton County will compete in the district tournament. Joining them will be young athletes from Augusta, Lake Oconee, Gainesville, Elberton, Loganville and Eatonton among several other areas.

And on Feb. 23, the state championship will be held to determine who will thus advance to the regional conest in Valdosta, which will include participants from 16 states.

The winners will then advance to Springfield, Mass., home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Half of Fame, with the overall champion attending the Elks National Convention.

After each event, a luncheon provided by the Elks Club will be provided for all contestants and their families. Awards among other prizes will also be given during that time.

"I just enjoy being with the kids and seeing them all participate and having fun," said Dial, who has been involved for seven years. "The Elks tries to do something for all levels."

For more information about the Hoop Shoot, visit