Eli Gonzalez, a 13-year-old student from Saint Mary School earned the Knights of Columbus state championship for foul-shooting contest held at the Saint Mary School gymnasium.

The annual event is for boys and girls in Milford in the age range of 9 to 14 and provides an opportunity to compete and move on to higher levels.

Gonzalez was 25-for-25 on his foul shots at regionals and made 24-of-25 at states.

“It made me very happy; very excited,” said Gonzalez, who plays for the Saint Mary team and the Milford Heat in the recreational league. A shooting guard at St. Mary, he played the point for the Heat. Gonzalez hopes to attend Notre Dame of West Haven.

“Eli grew up playing basketball with me, his brothers, uncle and cousin,” said Eli’s dad Edward. “He enjoyed shooting baskets on his own in the driveway. We would take him to the local parks to play and shoot around. You could say he grew into basketball playing on his own and just having fun. His favorite team will always be his school team.”

Grand Knight Adam Baranowsky said: “This is definitely very competitive at the state level. Everyone is very serious. The gym is super quiet when the contestants are shooting. Hardly any clapping and very little other noise during it.”

Edward Gonzalez said: “You can see he was nervous before the competition. We just told him to have fun and relax. We were hopeful he would perform to his abilities and not get nervous. Win or not, we just wanted him to have a positive experience competing in the state championship; something he will remember for a long time.”