The Oakhurst council of the Knights of Columbus held its annual Youth Free Throw Championship Tournament Jan. 26 at Yosemite High School with 26 shooters competing.
Boys and girls ages 9-14 competed in their respective age divisions with the top shooters advancing to the district contest in Fresno in February. Winners of that event will advance to the regional contest, the last step before participating in the state championship tournament.
The top free throw shooter of the day was Samuel Burnheimer, an eighth grader at Oak Creek Intermediate School, who made 14 of 15 shots, winning the boys 13-year-old division.
Burnheimer won the 11-year-old state championship in 2011. He finished fourth in the state as a 10-year-old in 2010.
Other girls and boys age division winners were:
9-year-old Ema Fries and Aaron Hill.
10-year-old Makayla Jeffris and Holden Eames who made one and 11 shots respectively out of 15.
11-year-old Josh Johnson who made 11 shots out of 15.
12-year-old Linnea Lienau and Paul Antonis who made eight and six shots respectively out of 15.
13-year-old Kelsey Montalto and Samuel Burnheimer who made nine and 14 shots out of 15.
14-year-old Harrison Thearle who made six shots out of 15.
All council champions received a Champion's certificate and a $10 gift card to the Oakhurst Burger King. All contestants were recognized for their participation in the event with certificates of participation.
"Congratulations to all of these young people who stepped up to the line and tried their best," said Tony Tucker, tournament chairman.
The local Knights of Columbus council has produced three state free throw champions Alyssa Sayre (2002), Katie Menton (2003), who played four years for Pepperdine University, and Burnheimer (2011).
In addition to Burnheimer, three shooters advanced to the state finals on 2012 Kylee Slocum,10, placed eighth; Madison Stretch, 11, placed sixth and Tristan Eames, 12, placed eighth at the state level after winning their age divisions at the regional level.
Burnheimer, the son of Ron and Molly Burnheimer of Oakhurst, has one more year to compete in the contest and has set the bar high for himself.
"My goal is to be the first free throw shooter from the area to win a state title twice," Burnheimer said.
Last year more than 120,000 sharpshooters participated in more than 3,600 local competitions across the nation.
The Knights of Columbus is an international Catholic family fraternal service organization with over 1.8 million members in 14,000 local councils. Last year, Knights donated over 70 million volunteer hours and $154 million to charitable and benevolent causes, sponsoring projects to benefit their church, councils, communities, culture of life, families and youth.