Hayley Stafford of Glens Falls had to wait more than a year to take the next step in the nationwide Elks Hoop Shoot competition.
Turns out it was well worth the wait. She won the North Central Regionals, making 23 of 25 free-throw attempts. That makes her eligible for the national finals.
Stafford won the state championship at Bishop Ludden High School in Syracuse in 2020. A week later the pandemic hit and the remainder of the competition was postponed.
The Elks picked up the event where it left off this winter, holding regionals as a “virtual” event. Stafford made her shots at a gym in the former Genpak building on Warren Street in Glens Falls. Elks officials monitored the event.
“It was a little different without a bunch of people watching,” Stafford said. “It was kind of less stressful, so I kind of liked it.”
Stafford is competing in the 12-13-year-old division, though she’s now 14. Everyone she’s competing against is a year older, as well.
She found out she’d won via text when results were released Thursday morning.
Hayley’s father, Ric, said it’s uncertain how or when the national finals will be conducted. But Hayley is looking forward to it.
“I really hope I have a good chance of winning,” she said. “I’ve worked hard for this.”
Stafford represents Glens Falls Elks Lodge No. 81. Evan Rosettie, who represents Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge No. 161, won the boys 12-13 division by making 24 of 25 shots.
The Glens Falls region has a strong history in the Elks Hoop Shoot. Among the former national champions are Joseph Girard III and Cameron Orr of Glens Falls and Sophie Phillips of Cambridge.