Culver City Observer -

Two Local Boys Will Shoot At Staples Center

 

January 8, 2015



By David W. Myers

Contributing Editor

Two local boys sponsored by the Culver City Elks will toe the free-throw line at Staples Center on Saturday, hoping to net their way into the finals of the Elks’ annual “Hoop Shoot” competition and have their names engraved on a placard inside the NBA’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

John Matthews, age 11, and Michael Yang, 12, sank more than 20 of their allotted 25 shots during the preliminary round last month in the gym at the Boys and Girls Club in Venice. That was better than dozens of other contenders, boys and girls between the age of eight and 12, from the West Side and South Bay.

It’s easy to compare the kids’ 80-plus accuracy to certain Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neill, who could hit the free-throw bucket barely half the time.

Both of the boys attend the private Notre Dame Academy Elementary School on Overland Avenue in Palms.

After missing one free-throw in last month’s preliminary competition, Michael Yang banged 10 straight into the bucket to clinch the local title in the 12-year-old bracket from the Elks’ South Central Coast District. The district includes six lodges with a combined 3,000-plus members, from Culver City and Santa Monica to Torrance and the rest of the South Bay.

Though Michael Yang’s stellar performance had already earned him a spot in the 25-point free-throw contest, “He just kept shooting,” said Ed Miranda, a Culver City Elk who helped to coordinate the event.

“He got five more until we [the judges] said ‘OK, enough is enough.’”

If the two youngsters keep shooting straight, they’ll head for the statewide finals and, perhaps, a shot at the National Finals in Springfield, Mass. That’s the home of the National Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame, where the NBA inscribes the names of Elks’ Shoot-Out champions on a plaque near those of Lakers greats Jerry West and “Magic” Johnson.

The two boys will meet members of the Los Angeles Clippers before their shoot-out competition on Saturday at Staples Center. Tickets, which include a seat for the Clippers’ game against the Dallas Mavericks at 12:30 p.m., start at $27 each.

Through the Elks National Hoop Shoot Free Throw Program, the Elks National Foundation offers youth the opportunity to engage in healthy competition, connect with their families and community, and succeed both on and off the court. In 2014-15, the foundation allocated $825,160 to fund the program.

Members of the Culver City Elks Lodge operate a variety of other community-related programs throughout the year. They include ongoing support for local military veterans, fundraisers for disabled kids, a “dictionary drive” for local elementary schools, and drug-prevention efforts aimed at teenagers.

The Culver Lodge was incorporated in 1954 and is part of a network that has more than 870,000 members across the United States. Information about joining can be obtained by dropping by its facility at 11160 Washington Place or by calling its on-site office, (310) 839-8891.

 

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