It sounds like a lot of fun, and organizers of the first Bellwood-Antis Shoot-A-Way Basketball Competition are banking on the fact that it certainly will be.
The event, sponsored by the Bellwood-Antis Girls High School Basketball Booster Club, will be held on Saturday, Nov. 10 in both the Bellwood-Antis High School and Bellwood-Antis Middle School gymnasiums.
The event will offer participants a chance to try their basketball shooting skills using the Shootaway Gun, an apparatus which stands 12 to 13 feet high and features a net on top of it spanning eight feet wide. The Shootaway Gun is marketed nationally out of the town of Upper Sandusky, Ohio - a Columbus suburb.
Competition will be held for males and females in four age brackets - grades 7-8, grades 9-10, grades 11-12, and an open division for high school graduates and adults.
The competition is open to any and all interested participants, regardless of their school affiliation.
Registration for the event is only $25 per person and will enable each participant to take 50 shots from a stationary position and 50 more from a rotating or transitory position on the basketball court. For $5 more, two participants can enter a doubles competition and compete as a team of friends, or even as father-son, mother-son, father-daughter, mother-daughter teams.
Bellwood-Antis Shootaway Competition
When: Saturday, Nov. 10.
Where: Bellwood-Antis High School and Bellwood-Antis Junior High School gymnasiums.
Starting times: Registration begins at 8 a.m. on the day of the event. On-line pre-registration is encouraged by Nov. 1 by sending name, grade, contact email address and phone number to BAshootawaytournament@gmail.com.
Eligible: Boys and girls in grades 7-12 from any school district. High school graduates and adults can compete in an Open Division.
Entry fee: $25 per participant. An additional $5 enables each participant to compete in doubles competition.
A total of four Shootaway Guns will be used in the competition in the two gymnasiums, but more will be available, if needed, according to Bob Crook, the fund-raising director for the Bellwood-Antis High School Girls Basketball Booster Club. Crook did most of the legwork that was involved in bringing the Shootaway Competition to this area.
"I think it's a good thing to have before the basketball season starts,'' said Crook, whose daughter, Ellen, is a junior player on the Bellwood-Antis girls varsity basketball team. "I know the guys who own [the Shootaway Gun] company, and it just came to me to try something different than the traditional elementary or junior high school basketball tournament [to raise funds.]''
The Shootaway Gun is a device that operates on rollers. In the stationary competition, players can pick one spot on the court from which to shoot at the net. In the rotating competition, players will shoot at the net from several different spots on the court.
The Shootaway Gun has been used by many big-name collegiate basketball coaches - among them Michigan State's Tom Izzo - and is a fine tool to get players ready for actual competition.
"The Shootaway Gun is the best basketball scoring machine to date,'' Bellwood-Antis girls basketball coach Jim Swaney said. "This basketball shooting machine will act as an automatic rebounder, instantly rebounding a made or missed shot and providing a direct return pass for another shot.''
The Shootaway Gun can fire up to 1,800 shots per hour, and features an optional computerized scoreboard that counts and displays successful shots, total shots, and shooting percentage.
"The Booster Club purchased these guns,'' Swaney said. "I don't think anybody in this area has held any competition with the Shootaway Guns, and that's what we're looking to do - promote the Shootaway Guns a little bit - and offer competition for individuals in divisions from grade 7 through adults.''
Swaney is ideally hoping that the event will attract up to 10 to 12 participants in each age group.
"The thing that's really nice about it is that kids will compete against players from schools that they normally wouldn't compete against - like an Altoona High School player competing against a player from Juniata Valley,'' he said. "We're trying to get people in here from as many different school districts as we can.''