Free throws often determine the fate of basketball games. For example, Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson made two free throws with 3 seconds remaining in overtime of the 1989 NCAA men’s basketball title game against Seton Hall, winning Michigan a national championship.

Free throws often determine the fate of basketball games. For example, Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson made two free throws with 3 seconds remaining in overtime of the 1989 NCAA men’s basketball title game against Seton Hall, winning Michigan a national championship.

Eight boys and girls competed in the 2010 Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest Thursday morning at the Pittsburg YMCA.

Logan Lord, daughter of Pittsburg State women’s basketball coach Lane Lord, competed alone in the 12-13 girls division and she will move onto regionals held Jan. 22 in Iola.

Coach Lord said free throws have suffered in recent years, despite their pivotal role in every basketball game.

“Look at our team (Pittsburg State women), we’re shooting 60 percent free throws as a team and it’s cost us a couple games,” Coach Lord said.

Logan Lord made 15 of 25 free throws, including 7 of her first 10 shots.

“She needs to work on it more,” Coach Lord said. “She did good her first 10 shots and tired a little bit her last 15.”

Free throws have never been as glamorized as the slam dunk and the 3-point shot. Shaquille O’Neal spurned Rick Barry’s advice when one of the all-time best free-throw shooters told Shaq that he should adopt Barry’s underhand style to improve Shaq’s putrid shooting.

Nicolas Slavin, from Olathe, won the 12-13 boys division by shooting 21 of 25 free throws (84 percent); Troy Slavin, Nicolas’ father, said he read about the hoop shoot online and his son decided to participate while visiting relatives in Pittsburg.

“He just plays a lot of basketball,” Troy Slavin said, when asked how much his son practices free throws.

The winner of each division at the district and state levels moves onto April’s regional competition in Denver. This involves dinner and basketball practice with the Denver Nuggets as part of the fringe benefits of good shooting.

“His favorite basketball team is the Denver Nuggets,” Troy Slavin said. “So maybe that will motivate him more to work on his free throws.”

Homer Cole, one of the organizers of the Hoop Shoot, said that numbers this year were down from past years.

“We usually have 20-30 kids,” Cole said. “They’ll be refinishing the floor here (YMCA), so we moved it to the 23rd. Maybe that’s why.”

District Hoop Shoot competition has been scheduled for Jan. 22 at Iola.