The third level of the Statewide Knights of Columbus Free Throw Tournament became athletic history in the John Lewis Childs School gym, last Saturday with the foul-line kings and queens of four teams representing the 20th district, toeing the stripe in the hopes of bringing glory to themselves and their respective councils.
Grand Knight Oscar Grasser and Free Throw Chairman Jack Kelleher greeted the visitors warmly and, with a small army of dedicated 2345 Knights, ready to man the ramparts, they set the wheels in motion, aiming to drape the Olympic-type medals over the heads of the happy winners.
This outstanding event, now in its 20th year of recognized excellence, came into being under the expert handling of Past Grand Knight Clete Doolittle and former mayor of Floral Park Tom Hayden, both of whom set the standards of excellence that have become the watchword throughout K of C circles.
The 10-year-old queen was Carol Sheehan, our local tosser, whose runs of 2, 4, 8 and 2 singles gave her a 16-13 win over Caithe Scurachio, representing Father John Farrel council. Stephanie Regan, another Floral Park lass, made the cords sing 19 out of 25 times, to earn the 11-year-old girls medal, besting St. Therese's Dominque Ringold's 16 ringers. Christine Gonzalez, wearing Father Carrol colors, swished 15 of her 25 shots to claim the 12-year-old medal, edging our Amanda Krohn's 12 for 14 and Kathryn Salmon, local 13-year-old cager, eked out a 14-13 decision over Father Carroll's Jennifer Cully.
Donald Haug, 10-year-old Floral Parker, bested Michael Reid, representing St. Therese council, via a 21-18 count, while 2345's Chris Graziano was locked at 22 out of 25 with St. Therese's Daarel Wonce. In a tie shoot-off, Chris dipped all five of his shots, while Daarel could only sink four, giving the 11-year-old boys medal to Chris. The star of the show was our own Brian Milella, who strung 8, 7 and 8 for a nifty 23 for 25 but Father Carrol's Derrick Coleman was in it all the way, zipping 21 for 25 through the cords. Tom Lally, our rep in the boys 13-year-old slot, downed Father Carrol's John Romanelli by a 20-17 tally and dropping the curtain on this perfectly conducted shoot-out, Chris Platia, St. Therese standout, grabbed a 13-8 win over the efforts of Ryan Malafronte, wearing Father Carrol colors.
Grand Knight Oscar Grasser and Free Throw Chairman Jack Kelleher, assisted by a fine group of dedicated Knights, exhibited the usual Floral Park excellence in the manner in which this tournament was conducted - excellence that has put "Floral park" in the forefront whenever Free Throw becomes the topic of conversation.
The next level of competition - The Nassaus - will be held on March 7 in the Plainedge H.S. gym, starting at 2 p.m. This tournament will encompass all Nassau County Councils and is a stepping stone to The Downstate Championships, held in the spacious gym of Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy. After Kings Point is The Big One - West Point - and, through the years, the Floral Park slogan has become West Point, Here We Come!