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Children gathered together at Saint Mary School gym at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, for a fun day of shooting hoops.

The annual Free Throw Championship is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, and it is their third year of doing this.

It is a great way for boys and girls of ages 9 to 14 to get involved with physical activities.

Participants practiced shooting hoops in the gymnasium after registration and before the beginning of the contest.

Children from all schools in Milford were welcome to play at this basketball event.

“I just like that you get kids from Catholic schools, public schools and the community, some that may go to this school, but they all come together and have a good time,” said Grand Knight Adam Baranowsky.

“It’s obviously good for the kids, the community. They come out, everyone has a good time, and a lot of the Knights have a good time when they’re here shooting, rebounding and cheering people on. So it brings everyone together.”

According to First Degree Knight and Chairman of the Free Throw Championship, Vincent Cotto, groups of boys and groups of girls were divided by each age group. There was a winner for each age group and each gender of that age group.

Everyone who played this day received participation forms, and each winner earned his-or-her own plaque and certificate.

Taking first in their respective divisions were George Ganim (9-year-old boys), Sarah Donegan (9-year-old girls), John Gerrity (10-year-old boys), Erin Donegan (10-year-old girls), Elizabeth Roos (11-year-old girls) and Gavin Cleary (12-year-old boys).

The competition is a council contest, which is the first level of the free throw competitions. The winners of this one will be able to proceed to the district level, then to the regional one, and then state level. The winners will have the honor to move on to the national championship.

This is Cotto’s first year as a chairman and as a Knight.

“Just seeing the kids having a good time, getting out and doing something active, and just having fun,” was rewarding to Cotto, who has always had a passion for basketball. “It was good to see that they were all good sports cheering each other on.”

Mike Donegan daughters were proud to have won in their age groups. This was their first time participating in this contest at Saint Mary’s.

“If [they’re not] active, they’re just going to fall into the whole iPad trap and everything like that, so you have to keep them active,” Donegan said. “It helps them be social. This is a great outlet athletically and socially.

“I think this is a great thing that the Knights do, as well as the Elks, and we really appreciate the effort for doing this for the kids.”

Cotto understands the importance for young boys and girls to engage in physical activities.  

“It’s a big thing for kids to be active,” he said. “A lot of times you see kids staying in the house, not getting out and [not getting] exercise.”

Caroline Baird also knows how imperative it is for children to be healthy. “I think it’s very important for them to be active and involved in the community. They need to learn about Milford be on a team (and) help other people,” said Baird.