There was an air of quiet confidence and expectation in the Plainedge High School gym last Saturday, as boys and girls, competing in the 10-to 14-year-old levels of the Knights of Columbus Nassau Free Throw Championships warmed up, preparatory to the imminent "real thing" -- the head-to-head battle with shooters in their particular class who were also dreaming of going home with the trophy that says Champion.
The local council had seven hopefuls -- three girls and four boys -- toeing the foul line and, when the smoke of battle cleared away, two of the seven vaulted to the next step on the way to West Point and a state championship.
Carol Sheehan, wearing Floral Park colors, strung three deuces and eight singles to post a 14 for 25 total -- a score duplicated by two other lasses -- Massapequa's Meghan Flynn and Jaclyn Wetherell, hailing from Syosset. This three-way knotting called for a five-shoot shoof-off and Carol brought the 10-year-old girl's title to our town by canning four of her five tosses, while her opponents could only drop two of their five. Our Stephanie Regan swished two, four, a pair of threes and six loners for an 18 for 25 count but she was nosed out by Jaclyn Zacherio, from Port Washington, whose 19 for 25 won her the 11-year-old girls crown. A 13 for 25 effort, on runs of five, two and six solos for a 13 for 25 count wasn't good enough for Kathryn Salmon, local 13-year-old tosser, as Danielle Simmons, Syosset entrant, showed a 15 on runs of two, three, six and a quartet of singles to capture the bauble.
In the boys competition, Donald Haug, Floral Park rep, shooting 18 on runs of five, eight, four and one bowed to Levittown's Joseph Cammarata, who canned two, three, four and a nifty run of 12 to tally 21 and win the 10-year-old boys trophy. Floral Park's Chris Graziano's 18 for 25, shot on runs of two threes, four, seven and a loner bowed to Syosset's Jim Pendergast, who ran a sizzling 19 and 3 for a 22 for 25 and the 11-year-old boy dust collector. The local 12-year-old boy, Brian Millella, rimmed a fine 17 for 25, stringing nine, three, two and a trio of solos but Hicksville's Stelio Karas put a 21 for 25 on the books, canning seven, eight, three, two and one to become the 12-year-old boys king. The star of the show was our own Tom Lally who electrified the crowd with a 24 for 25 dazzling score. He opened with six in a row, missed his seventh shot then strung the remaining 18 for a spectacular exhibition of foul shooting, which earned him the 13-year-old boys purple robes.
This outstanding event exhibited the usual top-notch Floral Park flavor, brought about by the presence of Grand Knight Oscar Grasser, Deputy Grand Knight Tom Moore and Past Grand Knights and present District Deputies Steve Tommony and Jim Rhatigan. Casey members Ed Hackimer and Bill Millella added their many talents to the overall Floral Park success, while overseeing the total Floral Park presence was the ever-capable Jack Kelleher, whose two-year tenure, as free throw chairman has been studded with successes on every level of this great activity.
The next level, Downstate Championships, pitted our stars against the best the downstate areas could muster, was be held on Saturday, March 14, at Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy. Winners at this level head for the big one -- the State Championships at West Point, the date to be announced later.