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April 19, 2008

 

6th grader Shaw shooting to capture national crown

Shaw

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Robert Shaw, 12, practices his foul shot at the Cortland YMCA Thursday afternoon.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer
Robert Shaw of Cortland is about to make local history, becoming the first local contestant ever to take part in the National Finals of the Elks Hoop Shoot.
Not bad for a 12-year-old.
Robert, the son of Kevin and Robin Shaw, is a sixth-grader at Barry School. Starting at the local level, he has won five different Hoop Shoot events to earn a berth in the national finals for 12- and 13-year-old boys.
He will be representing Cortland Lodge 748 next Saturday against the nation’s best in Springfield, Mass.
 He sank 20-of-25 free throws in the local event at Cortland High School, then was perfect on five more to win a playoff over Vadim Schevchuk of Cortland Junior High. Shaw then hit 20-of-25 to win the New York South Central District competition at Vestal and 21-of-25 at the central region level at Herkimer, where he won a playoff against Justin Mattingly of Watertown.
A 20-of-25 performance earned him the state championship at an event held at Homer Junior High, and he hit 22-of-25 to win the North East Central Region (New York-Pennsylvania-New Jersey Tri-State) crown, and a Nationals spot, at Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
“I’m proud to be the first person from here that ever (made nationals),” Shaw said recently while taking a break from practicing on the outdoor basket at his house. “I’m just having fun. I’m not really nervous about it. I feel confident.”
In addition to his outdoor practice, Shaw also has a pair of two-hour sessions at the Cortland YMCA each week. His father and brother, both named Kevin — the latter a freshman standout this past season for the Cortland High varsity — help him out.
“My father and brother always played basketball, and I’ve been interested basically all my life,” Shaw said. “They both just tell me to concentrate on the hoop, take my time and follow through. They also help me out at the Y and outside, taking time to rebound for me.”
A competition at Barry when he was 11 got Shaw interested in the concept of Hoop Shot competitions. “When I’m shooting, if I make the first one I just try to make the next one, and so on,” he said. “If I miss, I concentrate on making the next one.”
Springfield is the home of the National Basketball hall of Fame, which the contestants in the Hoop Shoot Nationals will be visiting while in the city. “I’m excited about that,” Shaw said.
But make no mistake, he has his priorities straight going in.
“Next time I hope to do better,” he said of the Nationals. “I know I have to, because I know these kids are really good.”