Just because Taylor Griffiths is an Ohio state champion in the Elks foul shooting contest, don’t think she doesn’t get a little anxious when she steps to the line.
She does, but it’s all right with her.
“I do get nervous before I have to shoot free throws at the Elk’s competitions,” she said. “I think that helps me focus.”
Taylor, a Fayette seventh grade student, heard about the national Elks Hoop Shoot Free Throw Contest from her school coach, John Winzeler.
“She has excellent form,” Coach Winzeler said. “Her father, John, taught her how to shoot.”
Coach Winzeler figures she hits close to 80 percent of her shots during junior high games and he thought Taylor might do well in the annual competition sponsored by the Elks organization.
Taylor decided to give it a try. The first step took place Dec. 18 in Napoleon, sponsored by the local Lodge #929. Competing in the 12-13-year-old division for girls, she put 18 of 25 shots through the hoop and that was good enough to win and advance to the district level.
At Findlay, she went up against 10 other girls and improved her showing. This time she won with 22 good shots.
She did even better at the state contest Feb. 19 in Groveport. Facing five other district winners, Taylor put 24 of 25 shots through the net to become the Ohio state champion.
For the next step, Taylor will travel to Angola, Ind., March 19 for the Great Lakes Region 4 semifinal where she will have only two competitors: the state champions in her age group from Michigan and Indiana.
The winner moves on to the finals in Springfield, Mass., where the 12 regional champions face off for the national title.
Even Taylor was surprised by her success at the state finals.
“That was the most I have ever made,” she said.
She’s played basketball since third grade and she started getting serious about her shot after her grandfather ordered the “Nothing But Net” shooting DVD from the famous college coach, Herb Magee. She started practicing his shooting drills and the hard work is paying off.
Her skills at the free throw line came in handy during a summer league game.
“Last summer during a basketball game with my AAU team, the Ohio Lady Bruins, I was fouled with one second to go and had to make both free throws in order to put the game in overtime,” Taylor said.
“I did make both free throws,” she added.
• Taylor is the daughter of John and Krys Griffiths of rural Fayette.