Elementary free-throw contest a heated battle

By Bryan Richardson

It’s hard to resist a tale of redemption.  It came down to sudden death Wednesday in the Marlatt Elementary sixth grade boys division of the Little Apple Optimist Club’s Hoop, Holler ‘N Shoot free throw competition.

After more than 60 boys and girls shot in their respective divisions, only two boys remained. Each made eight of ten free throws.

For Mitch Munsen, it represented familiar territory.

“Last year, I had sudden death and lost,” he said.

Munsen, who plays on a traveling basketball team, had to wait all year for the opportunity to try again.

After a miss by his opponent, Munsen stepped up to the line as his classmates sat behind him.

Munsen hoisted up the shot, and it went in.

He jumped around the school gym as his fellow sixth graders cheered.

“It was pretty awesome,” Munsen said.

Jasmin Johnson also had something to prove in the sixth grade girls division.

“Last year, I did awful because I was pretty nervous,” she said.

Johnson, a traveling volleyball player, said her mom, who played basketball in college, taught her a lot.

She made five of ten free throws to win her division.

“I practiced a lot more this year because I knew the pressure was on,” Johnson said. “Last year, I just kind of threw the ball up. This year, I took time.”

Johnson and Munsen earned the right to represent their school Dec. 15 in the semifinals during halftime of the K-State women’s and men’s basketball games.

Marlatt and 10 other local elementary schools will participate in the competition with their fifth- and sixth-grade girls and boys champions.

The top four semifinalists will shoot in the finals during the women’s game Jan. 8 and the men’s game Jan. 14.

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