NEW MADISON – Tri-Village fifth grader Rylee Sagester will compete in a national free throw shooting competition next month in Chicago.
Rylee, the daughter of Josh and Traci Sagester, won the Elks Hoop Shoot Great Lakes Region championship for 10 and 11 year old girls on Saturday in Angola, Indiana. Representing the Greenville Elks Lodge No. 1139, she made 19 of her 25 free throw attempts to win the competition among the best free throw shooters from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.
“It feels really good,” Rylee said. “This gives me a chance to work on my free throws plus I like to win.”
This is the second year that Rylee has participated in the Elks’ Hoop Shoot competition. Last year she was eliminated in the local competition, but so far this year she’s won the local, district, state and regional championships.
As the daughter of Tri-Village’s varsity boys basketball coach, Josh Sagester, Rylee has been around the sport all her life. She plays Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and spends lots of time on shooting and ball handling.
“We’re really proud of her,” Coach Sagester said. “She’s put in a lot of time. Being a coach’s daughter, she didn’t have much of an option. As she said, she did get beat last year at the local level so she was determined to not only improve physically but improve mentally to be able to handle the pressures of the contest and certainly her mom and I are very proud of her.”
While she plays throughout the year, Rylee has increased her practice in anticipation of the national competition.
“Been practicing a lot lately,” she said. “I’m trying to get 100 a day and that will give me 2,600 shots in 26 days then I leave for Chicago.”
The Hoop Shoot nationals are scheduled for April 14-17 in Chicago. The competition will take place on April 16 at Roosevelt University’s Goodman Center in downtown Chicago.
“I’m excited to compete against girls that I’ve never competed against and hopefully to go and win,” Rylee said.
The Hoop Shoot competition includes boys and girls ages 8 to 13 from all across the United States. Riley is one of 12 girls who will compete in her age division.
Her personal best for free throws made is 22 of 25, but Rylee is setting big goals for the national competition as she hopes to make all 25 of her shots.
“I’m hoping to go 25 for 25 because they said that you get like a big glass basketball, like the Golden Globe awards,” she said.
Rylee admits to feeling a little nervous but said she’s more relaxed since going through the regional competition last weekend.
“I was a little nervous at first, but I’m feeling better now that I won (the regional competition),” she said.
For more information about the Elks Hoop Shoot competition, visit http://www.elks.org/hoopshoot/.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.