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Down the court: Fifteenth Annual Foul Shooting Contest draws basketball players throughout the region

By Staff | Jan 17, 2020

Musselman Middle School eighth grader Keleigh Chrisman aims for the basket, during the 15th Annual Foul Shooting Contest at Shepherdstown Middle School on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Throughout the year, St. Agnes Catholic Church’s Knights of Columbus chapter reaches out to the community by holding a variety of fundraisers and other events. While many of those events are held for all ages, a few of them are specifically held for children.

On Saturday morning in the Shepherdstown Middle School gymnasium, children ages nine to 14 could be seen competing in the 15th Annual Foul Shooting Contest. For the four Knights of Columbus running the event, it was an opportunity to encourage children to live a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s an event that’s sponsored by the Knights of Columbus nationally. I think it shows the competitors how to play by the rules, and it gives them the opportunity to try out competition on a state level,” said Grand Knight John Doyle, mentioning the girls and boys of each age who shoot the most baskets out of 15 shots go on to compete in the regional and state rounds of the competition.

The competition, according to Doyle, is something each KOC chapter can adopt, if they desire. St. Agnes Catholic Church’s chapter started hosting the competition in 2005, led by Bob Rizzo. Although Rizzo still helps organize the event, the majority of its organization is now done by Lenearo Ashford.

Ashford himself fondly remembers competing in the event run by his childhood parish’s Knights of Columbus chapter.

“It was the competition that I enjoyed about it,” Ashford said, mentioning the children competing in the event do not have to be Catholic to participate. And while the 12 top scorers get to take home a trophy and certificate of recognition for winning the event, they don’t have to pay anything to compete.

“This is completely free – there’s no cost at all. Just their time and their parents’ gas,” Ashford said.

The Shepherdstown Middle School boys basketball team started off the competition on Saturday morning, following their regular morning practice. Basketball players from across the Eastern Panhandle showed up to join the competition. One of the girl athletes competing in the event was Musselman Middle School eighth grader Keleigh Chrisman.

“She’s competed in this event every year, and has gone all the way to the state competition – she’s gone twice,” said Keleigh’s mother, SMS school counselor Amy Chrisman.

Keleigh’s two older siblings also competed in the event every year until they aged out, with her brother also making it to the state competition. Although Keleigh now plays school volleyball rather than basketball, she wanted to follow in her siblings’ footsteps, and also play in the competition until she aged out.

“It’s fun and it’s a chance to come out and shoot baskets,” Keleigh said, mentioning that she is glad she has taken part in the competition every year.