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National Free Throw Contest Begins in Mamaroneck

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Everybody who watched Benjamin Lubowitz shoot free throws at St. Vito's felt the pressure, except him and his father Aaron, who admired his son's medal after he advanced in the national Elks Hoop Shoot Contest Tuesday night.

Ben sank 12 of 15 in the first leg of the four-month long competition, which led the 10-year-old shooting guard to Springfield, Ill. for the nationals two years ago. Last year, Aaron said he was the New York State runner-up and is poised for another strong run this year.

"He has ice in his veins," said Tony Martino, assistant coordinator for St. Vito's CYO Basketball. "I know there must be pressure on him but he's a good athlete."

Ben normally wears a Boston Celtics jersey whenever he shoots – but he sported a Kevin Durant jersey Tuesday. He nailed 14 out of 15 at St. Vito's two years ago, when he shot his way to the New York State Championship and went on to the nationals. Although he fell short there, his father Aaron couldn't have been prouder.

"It's great that he wins but I want him to have fun with it," said Aaron, a Harrison resident who also competed in the Elks Hoop Shoot Contest growing up in Massachusetts. "My whole family went to watch. He's got good hand-eye coordination, so he's one of those kids who can just get in a zone. He's a good shooter and he likes the pressure."

Aaron is also Ben's coach in a tri-county recreation basketball league.

St. Vito's opens the Elks Hoop Shoot Contest to anybody in the Sound Shore area, however, Benjamin was the only participant not from the parish this year. In the upcoming rounds, of which there are six in total, he will represent the Mamaroneck Elks Club. The Elks club will cover any travel and lodging costs of all advancing contestants.

The next round will be held in Ossining Jan. 14. Tuesday, Benjamin was one of six to advance. The other winners included: Michael Miller, 9, Sofia Capparelli, 8, Giana Magrino, 10, John Luiso, 13 and Nicolette Sansotta, 11.

St. Vito's also plans to host the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Shooting Contest sometime this year.

For more information on St. Vito's CYO Basketball, click here . To learn more about the Elks Hoop Shoot Contest, click here .

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