Wednesday, January 12, the Ravalli County Free Throw Contest returns after an absence due to COVID. The competition, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, is open to all Bitterroot Valley youth from ages 9 to 14.

Organizers have brought the contest back to the Hamilton Middle School gym on South 5th Street in Hamilton, where it has traditionally been held. The south entry of the building (the foyer) is where kids and parents can enter. By the way, parents need to have signed registration forms before the kids can compete. The forms are at all valley schools, or you can sign them at the middle school Wednesday, but come earlier before the 6:30 start.

The rules are the same as in previous years. Each contestant will shoot three practice shots, then 15 free throws. The girls will compete against the girls and boys will be up against the boys.

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The younger kids - age 9, 10 and 11 - will shoot from 12 feet instead of the usual 15-foot foul line. And only the boys - ages 12, 13 and 14 - will use the boys' regulation basketball. All other boys groups and girls groups will us a slightly smaller girls regulation basketball.

Winners in each category will receive a plaque and will qualify for a district competition, which is being determined. (It might even be in Hamilton this year.) By the way, the competition ages are determined as how old the child is on January 1. Oh, and one last thing - there will be pizza served to all competitors after the competition.

If you need more information, check with your local school for the proper paperwork. Good luck to all the competitors.

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